Joshua Birkebak, PhD. Interview: AIHA Accreditation & Quality Control

Hello all, It’s happy Fun[gi] Friday!  We have strict standards to follow when processing your mold and bacteria samples.  Today we will discuss the Fun in Fungi to maintain exemplary quality control for our wonderful clients!

Dr. Birkebak

Dr. Birkebak

Today Assured Bio’s Lab Manager and Quality Assurance Officer, Joshua Birkebak, Ph.D. (ABD), is here to tell us about AIHA Accreditation. Assured Bio Labs is an AIHA-LAP (American Industrial Hygiene Association – Laboratory Accreditation Program) Accredited laboratory for testing mold and bacteria. Assured Bio processes and interprets samples from homes, office buildings, schools, hospitals, micro-sensitive manufacturing facilities, and other buildings. We strive to uphold the highest quality testing and services for our clients.

Joshua earned a B.S. in Plant Science from the University of Washington in 2009 and received a PhD from the University of Tennessee in 2015. Joshua has over 12 years of experience in mycology, including taxonomy/systematics, genetics, microscopy, culture technique and herbarium work. He has conducted fieldwork in Costa Rica, Thailand, and throughout North America. He is a member of the North American Mycological Association, and is passionate about educational and citizen outreach opportunities. In his spare time, Joshua enjoys hunting mushrooms.

A: What is AIHA Laboratory Accreditation?

J: The American Industrial Hygiene Association runs a program to ensure that laboratories are held up to standards that show that they are going to be operating responsibly, ethically, and accurately. They sign off on certain labs and put their backing behind them saying that we have assessed this lab and they can effectively and accurately perform the analyses requested.

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A: What goes into becoming an AIHA Accredited Laboratory?

J: It is a very long process involving a lot of paperwork. The paperwork is specifically focused around how you run your business day to day, on both how you treat your customers and especially how good your laboratory practices are. Another significant part of AIHA Laboratory Accreditation Program is the biennial site assessment. We just had a site assessment about a month ago where a very knowledgeable assessor from the American Industrial Hygiene Association came in and spent two whole days in our laboratory checking on everything we do and all of our documents, making sure that everything is consistent and that we are functioning properly and holding up to our own as well as their standards for quality control and consistency.

 

Our AIHA Site Assessor Wiley Schell.  He is a professor of medical mycology at Duke University

Our AIHA Site Assessor Wiley Schell. He is a professor of medical mycology at Duke University

 

A: What are the Quality Control measures?

J: There are a lot of quality control measures. There are a lot of things that we need to ensure are working and functioning in the laboratory. This includes machinery and equipment like incubators and microscopes to petree dishes and slides. We have to check all of those routinely to make sure they are sterile and that there is no microbial growth on them. We have to make sure that all of the media we produce is both sterile and also indusive to growth. Every time we take a new shipment of bottles, slides, or syringes we have to check to make sure they are sterile, which means making media and inoculating them to make sure that nothing grows. We also check our air quality to make sure that there is no contamination coming from the inside of our laboratory. A big requirement is one in every twenty samples gets reread two times, once by the same analyst and once by a different analyst to ensure consistent analysis.

Incubator QC includes daily temperature checks.

Incubator QC includes daily temperature checks.

 

A: Why are these Quality Control Measures so important?

J: These measures are very important because we need to be sure that the results that we are reporting to our clients are both accurate and consistent. We need to hold ourselves to these high standards to ensure that when we issue a report, both we and the client can be confident in the results that we are producing. This means we must make sure that we are free of contamination and that our analysts are producing reliable and accurate results. It really is all about being consistent and having responsible laboratory practices.

 

Our clients include CIHs, Health & Safety officers, Indoor Environmental Professionals, Facility and Plant Managers, Home Inspectors, Infection Control Officers, and Homeowners. Assured Bio Labs is highly regarded by its clients because of its personalized customer-service approach. A knowledgeable staff member is always here to help. Give us a toll free call at 1-866-547-1727 or email us at info@assuredbio.com today to learn more about how we can help with your testing needs.

 

Always providing the best services to our customers,

 

Angela

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