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WWL
Wastewater Laboratory Analyst
Certification Exam
Practice Answers and Explanations



Question #1
Within the federal government, the following branch generates laws:

(a) Congress
(b) Office of the President
(c) Supreme Court
(d) Library of Congress

Answer: A

Explanation
Just a little reminder from your high school government class. The federal government is divided into 3 branches: executive - the President; legislative - Congress (the Senate and the House of Representatives); and judicial - the Supreme Court. The legislative branch generates laws so the correct answer is Congress. The Library of Congress is not correct, but those into speed reading may have just seen the word "Congress" and selected this answer.

Question #2
The law that governs wastewater analysis is:

(a) Safe Drinking Water Act
(b) Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
(c) Clean Water Act
(d) Federal Water Pollution Control Act

Answer: C

Explanation
The correct answer is the Clean Water Act. The Safe Drinking Water Act covers drinking water, while the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act covers hazardous waste disposal. The Federal Water Pollution Control Act is a precursor to the Clean Water Act and has been superseded.

Question #3
Within the federal agency that develops wastewater regulations, the Office that is responsible for the wastewater programs is:

(a) Office of Enforcement
(b) Office of Research and Development
(c) Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response
(d) Office of Water

Answer: D

Explanation
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) develops wastewater regulations and within the EPA the Office of Water is responsible for wastewater programs under the Clean Water Act. The Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response regulates hazardous waste disposal, not wastewater. The Office of Research and Development may at times be involved in the development of wastewater methods, but it does not administer the wastewater programs.

Question #4
Compliance monitoring analysis of wastewater:

(a) can be performed by any method
(b) can be performed by any method in Standard Methods
(c) can be performed by any method in the 18th Edition of Standard Methods
(d) can be performed by any method listed in 40 CFR 136

Answer: D

Explanation
The Clean Water Act specifically authorizes the EPA Administrator to identify testing procedures that are appropriate for monitoring wastewater. These identified methods are listed in 40 CFR 136.

Question #5
Allowed methods of analysis of heptachlor in wastewater include:

(a) EPA 8081
(b) EPA 608
(c) SM 6630 B & C
(d) ASTM D3086-90

Answer: B,C,D

Explanation
Heptachlor, a pesticide, is a target analyte of EPA method 608 (organochlorine pesticides by GC-ECD), SM 6630 B&C (Standard Methods organochlorine pesticides by liquid-liquid extraction GC method I and liquid-liquid extraction GC method II), and ASTM D3086-90. Heptachlor is a target analyte for EPA method 8081, but this method is part of SW-846. Methods in SW-846 are not identified as approved methods for analysis of wastewater in 40 CFR 136.

Question #6
The legal responsibility for insuring that the approved methods of analysis have been used to generate data lies with:

(a) the laboratory
(b) the EPA
(c) the person who signs the DMR
(d) the state agency issuing the permit

Answer: C

Explanation
The ultimate responsibility for determining that the correct methods have been used and referenced lies with the person who signs the Discharge Monitoring Report (DMR). The signature is attestation that the signer takes all responsibility.

Question #7
The approved methods of analysis under the industrial pre-treatment program are:

(a) any EPA method
(b) any method
(c) any method in Standard Methods
(d) only those methods approved by the permitting authority

Answer: D

Explanation
Like the compliance monitoring analysis program, methods must be specifically approved by the permitting authority (municipalities) under the industrial pretreatment program.

Question #8
The analytical contents of the wastewater Pollutant list:

(a) are set by EPA and are constant from state to state
(b) varies from state to state
(c) are based upon section 301(a)(1) of the CWA
(d) are also what are termed characteristics of hazardous waste

Answer: B,C

Explanation
Section 301(a)(1) of the CWA lists regulated pollutants. Three classes are recognized: 1) Conventional pollutants, 2) Non-conventional pollutants, and 3) Toxic pollutants. However, individual states have the authority to set the limits as long as they are at least as strict as the EPA limits. Accordingly, the limits vary from state to state. The characteristics of hazardous waste are associated with RCRA.

Question #9
Oil & Grease is an example of:

(a) a non-conventional pollutant
(b) a conventional pollutant
(c) a toxic pollutant
(d) a regular pollutant

Answer: B

Explanation
Section 301(a)(1) of the Clean Water Act (CWA) lists regulated pollutants. Three classes are recognized: 1) Conventional pollutants, 2) Non-conventional pollutants, and 3) Toxic pollutants. Oil & Grease is on the conventional pollutant list.

Question #10
The following are toxic pollutants:

(a) BOD5
(b) Mercury
(c) Pentachlorophenol
(d) Phosphorus

Answer: B,C

Explanation
Section 301(a)(1) of the Clean Water Act (CWA) lists regulated pollutants. Three classes are recognized: 1) Conventional pollutants, 2) Non-conventional pollutants, and 3) Toxic pollutants. Mercury and compounds, and Pentachlorophenol are on the toxic pollutant list. Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) is on the conventional pollutant list. Total phosphorus is on the non-conventional pollutant list.

Question #11
40 CFR 434 contains:

(a) the NPDES permit for the copper mining industrial group
(b) air emission standards for the petroleum refining industrial group
(c) effluent pre-treatment standards for the coal mining industrial group
(d) stormwater run-off standards for the pharmaceutical industrial group

Answer: C

Explanation
40 CFR 434, coal mining point source category covers effluent pre-treatment standards for the coal mining industrial group. There is no general NPDES permit for the copper mining industrial group. There is no pre-treatment effluent standards specifically for the copper mining industrial group, although possibly applicable standards for mineral mining (40 CFR 436) and ore mining (40 CFR 440) exist. Air emission standards for the petroleum refining industrial group are located at 40 CFR 60, subpart J. Stormwater run-off standards are not prepared for individual industrial groups (40 CFR 122).

Question #12
Disposal of biosolids is covered under:

(a) 40 CFR 258
(b) 40 CFR 136
(c) 40 CFR 503
(d) 40 CFR 160

Answer: C

Explanation
40 CFR 503, Standards for the use or disposal of sewage sludge, covers the disposal of biosolids. 40 CFR 258 is criteria for municipal solid waste landfills. 40 CFR 136 is guidelines for establishing test procedures for the analysis of pollutants. 40 CFR 160 is good laboratory practice standards.

Question #13
The proper collection and preservation for samples collected for mercury analysis is:

(a) collect in a Mason® jar and send to the lab
(b) collect in a pre-cleaned glass or polyethylene container
(c) add acid
(d) add nitric acid to pH <2

Answer: B,D

Explanation
Sampling requirements (40 CFR 136.3, Table II) for mercury are: container - polyethylene or glass; preservation - nitric acid to pH <2; maximum holding time - 28 days.

Question #14
The following parameters should never be sent to a commercial laboratory because of maximum holding time violations:

(a) sulfate
(b) dissolved oxygen
(c) sulfite
(d) residual chlorine

Answer: B,C,D

Explanation
The correct answers are dissolved oxygen, sulfite, and residual chlorine because the maximum holding time (40 CFR 136.3, Table II) for all three parameters is "analyze immediately." The maximum holding time for sulfate is 28 days.

Question #15
The Federal Register is published:

(a) every day
(b) every federal business day
(c) each day that Congress is in session
(d) once a year

Answer: B

Explanation
Somewhat of a tricky question because there are several similar answers. The correct answer is that the Federal Register is published every federal business day. Don't confuse this with the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) that is published once a year.

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