May 2024

Celebrating sustainable measurement on World Metrology Day

World Metrology Day is the annual celebration of the signature of the Metre Convention on 20 May 1875, designed to ensure that the same measurement system is recognised and used globally.

Metrology (measurement science) provides the foundation for confidence in decision making and policy development, supports standardisation of critical measurements and ensures accuracy and reliability in innovation. From food and drink to life changing medicines and sustainability, chemical and biological measurements occur routinely without us even knowing.

As the UK's Designated Institute for chemical and biological measurement, the National Measurement Laboratory (NML) at LGC provides measurement research and services to improve accuracy, traceability and standardisation of chemical and biological measurements, helping to foster innovation and promote productivity and economic growth.

Celebrations of World Metrology Day are jointly supported by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) and the International Organization of Legal Metrology (OIML). This year for the first time, World Metrology Day is officially recognised by UNESCO as a UNESCO International Day to and support the public to understanding what is meant by the science of measurement and why we are so dependent on it. 

World Metrology Day provides an opportunity to highlight the importance of accurate and standardised measurement. This year's theme is Sustainability; We measure today for a sustainable tomorrow and here are some examples of the work we do at the NML to support sustainability:

Evaluating microbiome methods for sustainability and health

The microbiota is a collection of microbes found in an environment (water, soil, human body, air etc) and can have an influence on human health and environmental sustainability.

The genetic material in the microbiota, known as the microbiome, can be analysed to understand these microbes in their environment, but it is complex and lacks standardisation. Metrology, through reference materials and methods, can support the study of the microbiome by ensuring accuracy and comparability of the methods. Through this work, we aim to provide confidence in measurement to support the exploitation of these complex systems such as understanding disease states in the human body, optimising wastewater treatment processes and studying the impact of global environmental changes.

Reference materials to support water quality

Without clean drinking water, we cannot survive. Water quality from various sources is routinely tested by different regulatory bodies to ensure public safety. Reference materials are used by the laboratories to demonstrate validity of their testing methods.

The NML at LGC produce certified reference materials to support testing laboratories validate their methods, providing confidence and ensuring accuracy of results. Our reference materials support sustainable development, healthy ecosystems and protect consumers. View our available reference materials- https://www.lgcgroup.com/measurement-services/reference-measurements-and-materials/

Our water reference materials are produced under LGC's schedule of accreditation to ISO 17034 as a reference materials producer.

Developing methods for characterisation of microplastics to reduce microplastic pollution

Over 350 million tonnes of plastic waste are produced globally each year, out of which two-thirds is released into the environment. In the environment large plastics fragment into smaller ‘micro’plastics, which can enter our food chain. Analysis of microplastics in food and the environment are challenging due to complexity of the matrix, lack of harmonised measurement methods and reference materials.

We are addressing these complex measurement challenges by developing reliable sample preparation strategies, representative test materials and accurate measurement methods.

Validated and harmonised methods will enable comparability of the results across various monitoring agencies and testing laboratories and contribute to the reduction of microplastics pollution.