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Quality Matters Columns

Peter Jenks looks at some current trends in the supply of CRMs and proficiency testing and highlights difficulties labs may have been when no commercial CRM is available. This will be followed with a second part looking at the production of in-house reference materials.

Peter Jenks gains new respect for microbiologists and learns that the way they approach analytical quality control is different from chemists.

Chris Burgess and John Hammond respond to Peter Jenks' thoughts in the last issue's Quality Matters Column. Please join in the debate and add your comments at the end of the article.

The reasoning behind strict compliance to an ISO Standard is logical, but the consequences can be commercially questionable, if not unsound. Peter Jenks, and many other scientists, are starting to question the commercial viability of all this regulation. What is your opinion?

Peter Jenks is concerned at the lack of mutual help available on the Internet within the field of analytical chemistry. Other fields, outside science, have strong communities where enthusiasts give freely of their advice and time; why not in analytical chemistry? Please tell us your views by adding a comment to this column article.

In recent editions of SE I have asked searching questions about the evolution of ISO 17025 and the role of accreditation bodies. By chance, I received a copy of an article by Gary Price which suggested that here was someone else who wasn’t convinced by the status quo. I contacted him and found that he is a metrology specialist who has advised Australian governments on the measurement infrastructure requirements of modern chemical measurement. I felt that the readers of this column would enjoy and may like to comment on his views. I asked him to produce the following short review of the arguments presented in the main articles.—Peter Jenks

The 33rd meeting of the Reference Material Committee of ISO, ISO/REMCO was held in Hangzhou (China) from 3 to 7 May 2010, and was hosted by the Standardisation Administration of China and the China Association of Standardisation. ISO/REMCO now has a membership of 70 members of the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) and liaison with 18 international organisations and seven ISO-internal committees. The new ISO TC liaison introduced at this meeting is with ISO/TC 158 “Analysis of gases”, with Dr Adriaan van der Veen acting as the REMCO liaison officer.

ISO Standard ISO 17025 is the cornerstone of the “Measured Once, Trusted Everywhere” concept and the accreditation of labs and testing establishment to ISO 17025 by accreditation bodies underpins the credibility. ISO 17025 is all about facilitating the free movement of goods and services and so helps to eliminate monopolies, cartels and all sorts of anti-competitive activities.

Continuing the series of articles on spectroscopy, we return principally to the UV-visible area of the spectrum, but this time to the science of luminescence (fluorescence and phosphorimetry), in all its many forms. Given the diversity of the application areas and instrument types available, in such an article we can only briefly give an overview of the topic and interested parties are, therefore, recommended to follow-up the listed references for more in-depth discussion on the points raised.

ISO 17025 has been with us now for 12 years and in some industry sectors it is getting hard to find a commercial laboratory offering chemical testing that is not accredited to ISO 17025 for some or all of its scope. In just 12 short years the importance of “quality management” to a laboratory has undergone a seismic shift.

A look back: where did ISO 17025 come from?

John Hammond

Starna Scientific Ltd, 52–54 Fowler Road, Hainault Business Park, Hainault, Essex, IG6 3UT, UK

The Irish writer George Bernard Shaw once said: “England and America are two countries divided by a common language”. Whilst this statement generally refers to the over 4000 words in everyday use in the United States that are not in British English, in the scientific world “is it metre or meter”, or for spectroscopists, nanometre or nanometer?

Peter Jenks

the Jenks Partnership, Newhaven House, Junction Road, Alderbury, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP5 3AZ, UK

The 12th Biological and Environmental Reference Material symposium (BERM 12) is now over: held at Keble College, Oxford, UK, from 7 to 10 July 2009 it was, based on the feedback received, a resounding success, both scientifically and socially. The weather was perfect and the setting magnificent.

The summer of 2009 has been notable for two metrologically significant events: the annual meeting of the ISO REMCO Committee and the 12th BERM Symposium, neither of which has ever been held before in the UK. It is a massive credit to LGC that they were able to host both meetings and succeeded in making the BERM Meeting one of the best ever! In this column John Hammond, the UK Industry Delegate to ISO/REMCO, reports on the proceedings and decisions of the meeting. I’ll be reporting on BERM 12 in the next column and also explaining the relationship between the UK Reference Materials Working Group, the BSI and ISO/REMCO.

Where is the accreditation of analytical laboratories taking the reference material producer industry? I’ve recently been cogitating the long term impact of the growing spread of ISO 17025 accreditation on the development and supply of certified reference materials and I’m concerned that the “quality business” is driving laboratory accreditation into areas where reference material producers will be under increasing pressure.

Following on from our previous foray into the UV-visible area of the spectrum, in this article we discuss its nearest neighbour in the spectral scale, namely near infrared (NIR) spectrometry. The NIR spectral region lies between 780 nm and 2500 nm (4000 cm–1 to 12,800 cm–1) bridging the more well-known and analytically used regions of the UV-visible (190–780 nm) and the infrared (4000–600 cm–1).

Christopher Burgess

Burgess Analytical Consultancy Limited, “Rose Rae”, The Lendings, Startforth, Barnard Castle, Co. Durham, DL 12 9AB, UK

John Hammond

Starna Scientific Ltd, 52–54 Fowler Road, Hainault Business Park, Hainault, Essex, IG6 3UT, UK/p>

Peter J. Jenks

the Jenks Partnership, Newhaven House, Junction Road, Alderbury, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP5 3AZ, UK. E-mail: [email protected]

As the column title rightly suggests Quality does Matter. The authors look at the major changes that have taken place over the last 50 years in four key areas: The National Metrology Institutes (NMIs), the instrument manufacturers, the user base and the globalisation of regulation through international regulatory bodies.

Peter J. Jenks

the Jenks Partnership, Newhaven House, Junction Road, Alderbury, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP5 3AZ, UK

In the first of our new Quality Matters columns (Issue 20/1), I introduced the new team of contributors and mentioned that John Hammond would be writing, from his position as the UK Industrial Delegate to the ISO-REMCO Committee, about the workings of that important body and looking to the future following some important decisions taken at the June 2007 meeting in Japan. This is his first of what will be a regular series of reports on the workings of REMCO.

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