Our Approach At Signature Science, we recognize that proficiency testing (PT) is one of the cornerstones of a healthy laboratory quality assurance program. PT provides you and your customers with solid evidence that your measurement program is performing as intended. The value of this unbiased external assessment is recognized throughout the analytical community; because of its importance, it is a required Quality Assurance (QA) element under most laboratory
accreditation programs. Signature Science is unique in its experience in providing proficiency testing to the chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) laboratory community.
Our approach to PT for CBRNE-related programs draws upon our corporate experience in providing tailored QA programs for government CBRNE programs for over 15 years. Applications range from routine monitoring for characteristic chemical or biological signatures to forensic characterization of unknown samples. Our PT samples support analytical testing programs involving microscopical characterization of unknown samples and identification of Chemical Warfare (CW) Agent-related chemicals, Toxic Industrial Chemicals (TICs), Toxic Industrial Materials (TIMs), Explosives, and biological pathogens and toxins in a variety of matrices and on a variety of collection media. As an ISO 17043-accredited PT provider, our PT programs provide the solid evidence that critical sampling and monitoring programs depend upon for data defensibility to support national and homeland security decisions.
PT samples and schemes can be tailored to meet the customers’ needs. Available PT services include design, planning, preparation, and evaluation of PT samples along with web-based results collection and reporting. PT samples can be customized using a variety of spiking materials from the following categories.
Chemical Warfare (CW) Agent-Related Chemicals - We have extensive experience in developing PT schemes for CW agents and their precursors and degradation products in a variety of matrices for a variety of analytical platforms. For air sampling applications, PT samples can be prepared on various sorbent media to challenge analyses utilizing solvent extraction or thermal desorption of sorbent-based sampling devices. We also have provided clients with schemes comprising samples in soil, water, and other environmental matrices; other schemes have used wipe samples on a variety of media, based on specific client applications and needs. Most CW-related PT samples have been tailored to analytical methods using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, direct infusion mass spectrometry, or infrared spectroscopy.
Toxic Industrial Chemicals/Toxic Industrial Materials - Focusing primarily on organic TICs and TIMs, the PT approaches that we have used for CW-related chemicals also have been used for other toxic and highly toxic materials associated with industrial or military applications. Some schemes have combined CW-related chemicals with similar commercial analogs, such as organophosphate pesticides to challenge analytical processes that must distinguish between similar and closely-related chemicals using non-definitive or screening methods. TIC/TIM PT samples can be prepared on various collection media, and in samples of powders, liquids, soils, sludge, and vegetation.
Explosives - Signature Science is licensed by the Federal Explosives Licensing Center of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to manufacture, store, and transport high explosives under license/permit No. 5-TX-453-20-2L-01392. This provides us with the capability to provide a wide range of PT samples to evaluate analytical proficiency related to detection of explosives and explosives-related materials. Ranging from military/commercial high explosives to samples focusing on clandestine production of homemade explosives, we offer PT schemes to meet the specific needs of a variety of analytical objectives.
Biological Pathogens and Select Toxins - As a key provider of PT samples and schemes for U.S. Government bio-threat monitoring programs, we have experience in delivering samples comprising inactivated bio-threat pathogens and select toxins for PCR analysis and immunoassay analysis methods. Samples can be prepared in buffer, soil, sludge or other environmental matrices, or on various wipe or filter media, depending upon the specific application or program need.
Signature Science has a cadre of professionals with many years of experience in PT programs, QA applications, and CBRNE science. Staff members include certified quality auditors and certified quality engineers, as well as staff members who have completed formal training as ISO/IEC 17025 assessors by the American Association of Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA). All of our certified QA staff have degrees in relevant scientific disciplines, including statistical science, chemistry, and biology.
Signature Science maintains dedicated laboratory facilities for preparation of PT samples for CBRNE programs. In addition, we have access to state-of-the-art chemical and biological laboratories for characterization and analysis of PT samples and materials. Our chemistry laboratories contain all of the required facilities for organic and materials synthesis, along with a wide variety of gas and liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry and optical spectroscopy instrumentation. We are licensed by the Federal Explosives Licensing Center of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to manufacture, store, and transport high explosives under license/permit No. 5-TX-453-20-2L-01392. Our biological laboratories provide both microbiology and molecular biology capabilities. The microbiology laboratory operates at a Biosafety Level 2 (BSL-2), and has a full complement of equipment needed to culture and identify bacteria (aerobic and anaerobic) and other microorganisms. The molecular biology laboratory includes an Applied Biosystems PRISM® 7000 Sequence Detection System and a Ruggedized Advanced Pathogen Detection (R.A.P.I.D.®) System, including Joint Biological Agent Identification and Diagnostic System (JBAIDS) updated software.
Signature Science statisticians use the computational and graphical capabilities of SAS® and S-Plus statistical software capabilities to perform detailed statistical analysis of data sets of any size or complexity. The graphical capability of these industry standard software packages, coupled with the flexibility of their proprietary programming languages, allows for complex data visualization and exploration. Signature Science data specialists use Microsoft Access®, Oracle®, and SQL® to develop, maintain, upgrade, and query databases and knowledge management systems.
Current and Past Experience Customer Listing
Signature Science staff began providing QA/QC support (including PT schemes) for the DoD and related agencies in the early 1990s and have supported numerous government chemical and biological sampling programs since that time. Current customers include the National Guard Bureau Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Teams, the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense, and the Department of Homeland Security.