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New ISO brochure on economic and social importance of reference materials


ISO has published a new brochure on the ISO Committee on Reference Materials (ISO/REMCO), whose standardization work supports the accurate measurements that are an essential feature both of everyday life and economic activity.

For example, they are needed to detect critical amounts of dangerous compounds in our food, to diagnose whether our bodies are functioning correctly for a healthy life, and to check whether a batch of steel is strong enough for the safe construction of a bridge.

Such measurements can only be performed when the corresponding measurement instruments have been properly calibrated. This is the same procedure as used when the accuracy of a set of weighing scales is checked by using a known standard weight. Consequently, materials which can be used for instrument calibration - such as the kilogram standard - are required. These are known as "reference materials".

The ISO/REMCO Chair, Prof. Dr. Hendrik Emons, comments, "Because vital decisions may depend on measurements, there needs to be confidence in the measurement data. Therefore, the correct application of critical measurement procedures must also be controlled by using reference materials which are similar to the material to be tested, and for which the measured value is already known. In consequence, laboratories are able to verify their ability to measure accurately."

ISO/REMCO carries out a broad international effort for the harmonization and promotion of reference materials, their production and their application. The committee has so far developed six ISO Guides on aspects of reference materials and has contributed to symposia, workshops and congresses.

The new brochure describes ISO/REMCO's objectives and how it is organized, explains the structure of its Guides, includes basic information on reference materials, provides definitions and lists its current members (33 participating countries and 37 observers).

Source: International Organization for Standardization (ISO)