Public health laboratory
'******note: this information is NOT applicable to the U.S. system based on its references; Israel, Japan, EU (concerned viewer)'
Public Health Laboratories operate as a first line of defense to protect the public against diseases and other health hazards. Working in collaboration with other arms of the nation’s public health system, public health laboratories provide clinical diagnostic testing, disease surveillance, environmental and radiological testing, emergency response support, applied research, laboratory training and other essential services to the communities they serve. Public health laboratory scientists are highly educated specialists with knowledge of one or more scientific disciplines, advanced skills in laboratory practice and the ability to apply this expertise to the solution of complex problems affecting human health.
Every US state and territory, as well as the District of Columbia, has a central public health laboratory that performs testing and other laboratory services on behalf of the entire jurisdiction. In addition, most states have local public health laboratories, ranging in size from large metropolitan laboratories with hundreds of scientists to small rural laboratories with one or two staff, that support local public health activities like sexually transmitted disease control, drinking water testing, and lead abatement.
State and large local public health laboratories frequently perform tests that are unavailable elsewhere. At the state level, public health laboratories help formulate public policies, develop new methods to detect and combat infectious disease and environmental pollutants and toxins, regulate private medical and environmental laboratories, and perform other essential services to protect residents’ health and well-being. At the federal level, state public health laboratories are a critical part of the national laboratory networks that support response to national emergencies and incidents involving food, disease, environment, and agriculture.
Many state public health laboratories also perform environmental testing. In some states the environmental and public health laboratory are the same entity, often located within the state health department. In others, the environmental laboratory is a separate institution under the department of environmental quality or natural resources.
Environmental laboratories provide analytical testing support for state programs including drinking water, wastewater, solid waste and air quality. Originally created to test municipal water and effluent from wastewater treatment plants, environmental laboratories have shifted to focus on macro-pollutants over the last 35 years as environmental degradation has progressed. Testing capabilities have advanced to become increasingly selective, sensitive and sophisticated. In some states, environmental laboratories and scientists charged with evaluating the health effects of environmental exposure to trace environmental pollutants have collaborated to form biomonitoring and environmental health tracking programs. These programs aim to assess the chemicals present in human bodies and correlate them with environmental exposures.
Both public health and environmental laboratories are committed to keeping the environment safe and protecting public health.
Core Functions of Public Health Laboratories 
- Disease Prevention, Control and Surveillance
- Integrated Data Management
- Reference and Specialized Testing
- Environmental Health and Protection
- Food Safety
- Laboratory Improvement and Regulation
- Policy Development
- Emergency Response
- Public Health Related Research
- Training and Education
- Partnerships and Communication
Public Health Laboratory Services 
- Screen 97% of babies born in the United States for metabolic and genetic disorders.
- Monitor communities for pathogens that spread in food or through contact with people or animals.
- Perform almost all testing to detect and monitor newly emerging infectious diseases like West Nile virus, SARS and Avian Influenza.
- Test drinking and some recreational water for bacteria, parasites, pesticides and other harmful substances.
- Identify suspect agents, as in 2001 when public health laboratories tested over 1,200 specimens a day during the 2001 anthrax attacks, ultimately conducting over one million laboratory analyses.
International accreditation 
In 2007, Haim Hacham et al. published a paper addressing the need for and the process of international standardised accreditation for laboratory proficiency in Israel. Their practice is an invaluable experience for all in the sector. With the similar efforts, both the Japan Accreditation Board for Conformity Assessment (JAB) and the European Communities Confederation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (EC4) have validated and convened ISO 15189, respectively ,. However, Spitzenberger and Edelhäuser have expressed their concerns in that ISO accreditation may include obstacles rising from new emerging medical devices and the new approach of assessment, indicating the time dependence of the standards.
References and notes 
- Hacham, Haim et al.; Tetro, Nurit; Kochavi-Azolai, Salit; Stern, Nava; Mizrahi, Dana; Lisenker, Anna; Gazit, Emanuel (2007). "Unification of the quality assurance systems of public health laboratories conformed to ISO 17025, ISO 15189, and ISO 9000: a major organizational change". Accreditation and Quality Assurance (Elsevier) 12 (8): 409–413. doi:10.1007/s00769-007-0262-9.
- Aoyagi T, Kawai T (May 2006). "[Validation of the ISO 15189 trial assessment results of clinical laboratories--effects of accreditation and interpretation of ISO 15189]". Rinsho Byori (in Japanese) 54 (5): 486–93. PMID 16789419.
- Huisman W, Horvath AR, Burnett D, et al. (2007). "Accreditation of medical laboratories in the European Union". Clin. Chem. Lab. Med. 45 (2): 268–75. doi:10.1515/CCLM.2007.037. PMID 17311523.
- Spitzenberger F, Edelhäuser R (2006). "Accreditation of Medical Laboratories in Europe: Statutory Framework, Current Situation and Perspectives". Transfusion Medicine and Hemotherapy (S. Karger AG) 33 (5): 384–92. doi:10.1159/000094738.
See also 
- Association of Public Health Laboratories
- ISO 9000
- ISO 15189
- ISO/IEC 17025
- Public health
- Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL)
- Labs Are Vital
- Public Health Laboratories, WA State Dept. of Health