November 2016

LGC contributes to new ISO standard for reference material production

A new ISO (International Organization for Standardization) international standard describing the mandatory requirements for reference material producers has been published: ISO 17034 - General requirements for the competence of reference material producers.

LGC scientists working as part of our UK National Measurement Laboratory and Designated Institute for chemical and bio-measurement function have been instrumental in this process, which has taken two years and significant international effort to achieve.

Reference materials are a type of measurement standard used to validate analytical methods, establish traceability and support quality control. They are particularly important for analytical chemistry and clinical analysis as most analytical instrumentation is comparative so samples of known composition (reference materials) are needed to ensure accurate calibration.

Since the initial international guidance on reference material production was released (ISO Guide 34), the regulatory needs within the reference material field have evolved. National accreditation schemes for reference material producers have been introduced, necessitating the conversion of Guide 34 to an international standard.

LGC’s contribution to global consensus on reference material production involves leading and coordinating the views of UK reference material stakeholders to inform the international position and providing comments throughout the drafting and production stages of ISO guides and standards. The BSI committee RMI/1, which coordinates UK input to ISO REMCO, is maintained by LGC with Dr Mike Sargent, Chief Chemical Metrologist, as the long-standing chairman and Gill Holcombe, Head of Reference Materials Production, acting as secretary.

As explained by Dr Steve Ellison, Science Fellow and a UK Representative with Mike Sargent on the joint ISO CASCO/ISO REMCO Working Group which drafted ISO 17034 explains, “LGC's contribution involved both coordination and technical contributions. Our coordination role helped to make sure that our UK representatives were well briefed on the technical problems facing the different reference material producers in the UK, and our reference material and international metrology experts were able to contribute strongly to the detailed technical provisions of the new Standard. We feel that this new Standard provides a very good balance between essential general requirements and the flexibility to allow for the very different kinds of reference material needed in today's measurements."

The degree of input into the production and revision of the ISO Guides for reference material production demonstrates the level of impact LGC has on the best practise in the field, maintaining the position of UK reference material producers at a global level.
LGC is accredited to Guide 34 as a Reference Material Producer.

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