Laboratoryless water analysis

The BS 1427 Guide to on-site test methods for the analysis of waters was originally published in 1993. It has now been completely revised and updated, and the new 118-page British Standard was published in January 2009. It describes methods for the analysis of industrial and other waters, which can be undertaken outside of the chemical laboratory as on-site tests, for the purpose of characterising the tested water for either quality or process control purposes.

With some determinands, which may be unstable after sampling, and which cannot be stabilised, on-site tests provide a suitable means of obtaining fit-forpurpose test results. The wide range of test methods described in the standard comprise simple procedures for use either by a trained analyst, or following appropriate training, by a suitable individual. Since the original publication in 1993, many industrial laboratories have been shut down and the use of on-site methods increased significantly. Non-analysts using proprietary test kits carry out a very significant proportion of these tests.

With increased self-monitoring, there is likely to be a much increased use of water test kits. The key issue is obtaining fit-for-the-intended-purpose analysis results using competent, suitably trained persons to carry out the analysis. This revised standard attempts to address quality assurance/ quality control issues (QA/QC) to help ensure this.

An SCI/RSC half-day seminar held on Wednesday, 25 March 2009 at SCI’s headquarters in Belgrave Square, entitled ‘How to carry out fit-for-purpose on-site water testing: (The revision of BS 1427: Guide to on-site test methods for the analysis of waters)’, provided information on the development and issues arising from the revision of the above standard with respect to the monitoring of chemicals in drinking water, environmental waters and effluents.

Representatives from the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI), the Environment Agency, two test kit manufacturers, as well as the primary author of the standard gave presentations. There was also a small, associated trade exhibition.

Prof K Clive Thompson

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