Interlaboratory Studies and Certified Reference Materials for Environmental Analysis

Interlaboratory Studies and Certified Reference Materials for Environmental Analysis

The BCR Approach

1st Edition - December 1, 1999

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  • Authors: E.A. Maier, Ph. Quevauviller
  • eBook ISBN: 9780080534886

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The participation in interlaboratory studies and the use of Certified Reference Materials (CRMs) are widely recognised tools for the verification of the accuracy of analytical measurements and they form an integral part of quality control systems used by many laboratories, e.g. in accreditation schemes. As a response to the need to improve the quality of environmental analysis, the European Commission has been active in the past fifteen years, through BCR activity (now renamed Standards, Measurements and Testing Programme) in the organisation of series of interlaboratory studies involving expert laboratories in various analytical fields (inorganic, trace organic and speciation analysis applied to a wide variety of environmental matrices). The BCR and its successor have the task of helping European laboratories to improve the quality of measurements in analytical sectors which are vital for the European Union (biomedical, agriculture, food, environment and industry); these are most often carried out in support of EC regulations, industrial needs, trade, monitoring activities (including environment, agriculture, health and safety) and, more generally, when technical difficulties hamper a good comparability of data among EC laboratories. The collaborative projects carried out so far have placed the BCR in the position of second world CRM producer (after NIST in the USA).Interlaboratory Studies and Certification of Reference Materials for Environmental Analysis gives an account of the importance of reference materials for the quality control of environmental analysis and describes in detail the procedures followed by BCR to prepare environmental reference materials, including aspects related to sampling, stabilization, homogenisation, homogeneity and stability testing, establishment of reference (or certified) values, and use of reference materials. Examples of environmental CRMs produced by BCR within the last 15 years are given, which represent more than 70 CRMs covering different types of materials (plants, biological materials, waters, sediments, soils and sludges, coals, ash and dust materials) certified for a range of chemical parameters (major and trace elements, chemical species, PAHs, PCBs, pesticides and dioxins).The final section of the book describes how to organise improvement schemes for the evaluation method and/or laboratory performance. Examples of interlaboratory studies (learning scheme, proficiency testing and intercomparison in support to prenormative research) are also given.


For university libraries, metrological institutes, accreditation bodies and institutes responsible for the organisation of proficiency testing, and all laboratories (routine, private and research) involved in environmental analysis.

Table of Contents

  • Part headings, chapter headings and selected section headings: Preface.
    The analyst and his duty: socio-economic impact of analytical activities. The necessity to produce reliable data. The economic background in numbers.
    How to Achieve Quality. The tools to achieve quality in analytical sciences. The tools to control quality of chemical measurements.
    Regulatory Aspects. The regulatory background. Accreditation. Others.

    Certified Reference Materials.
    Definitions. Types of materials. Relation to type of methods and calibration. The case of environmental monitoring. Generations of CRM.
    General Principles. The feasibility of CRM. The sciences involved in CRM production. The factors to be considered.
    Production of CRM. Selection. Preparation. Homogeneity Study. Stability Study.
    Certification of Reference Material. The ISO Guide approaches. The interlaboratory approach. The data treatment. Calculation of certified value. Uncertainty of certified value.
    Availability of CRM. The certification bodies. Availability of CRMs.
    The Use of CRM. Calibration CRM (ISO 32). Method validation (ISO 33). CRM for standards QC.
    The Quality of CRM and Reliability of Producers. Present situation - the main producers. Accreditation/certification of producers. BCR guidelines. AOAC approach. New ISO approach.

    Examples of BCR-CRM for Environmental Analyses.
    CRMs for Plant Analysis. Trace elements in aquatic plants. Trace elements in sea lettuce. Trace elements in rye grass. Trace elements in hay powder. Trace elements in white clover. Trace elements in beech leaves and spruce needles. Trace elements in lichen. References.
    CRMs for Biological Material Analysis. Trace elements in fish. Methyl-mercury in fish. As-species in fish. CBs in fish oil. OCPs in cod liver oil. Trace elements in mussel. Organotins in mussel. Trace elements in plankton. Pesticides in animal fat. Trace elements in milk. CBs in milk. Dioxins in milk. Microbial parameters in milk. Trace elements in human hair. References.
    CRMs for Water Analysis. Major elements in freshwater. Nitrate in freshwater. Major elements in rainwater. Trimethyllead in rainwater. Major elements in groundwater. Trace elements in groundwater. Trace elements in estuarine water. Trace elements in seawater. Mercury in seawater. Cr-species in lyophilised water. Se-species in solution. Unstable pesticides in lyophilised water. References.
    CRMs for Sediment Analysis. Trace elements in river and lake sediment. Fluoride in clay. Organotins in estuarine sediment. Methyl mercury in estuarine sediment. Extractable trace elements in river sediment. Extractable trace elements in river sediment. PCBs in sediment. PAHs in sediment. References.
    CRMs for Soil and Sludge Analysis. Trace elements in soils. Extractable trace elements in sewage sludge amended soils. CBs in sewage sludge. PAHs in sewage sludge. References.
    CRMs for Coal, Ash and Dust Analysis. Coal reference materials. Fly ash reference material. Dioxin in ash. Cr-species in welding dust. Trimethyllead in urban dust. References.

    Interlaboratory Studies.
    Principles and Definitions. Common needs.
    Laboratory Performance Studies - Proficiency Testing Schemes. Example 1: Proficiency testing scheme for marine monitoring. Example 2: Sea water microbiology.
    Method Performance Studies. Standardization. Example 1: Leaching tests for waste analysis. Example 2: Extraction tests for soil and sediment analysis.
    Material Certification Studies.
    Learning Schemes. Example 1: PCBs. Example 2: Methyl-mercury.


Product details

  • No. of pages: 557
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Elsevier Science 1999
  • Published: December 1, 1999
  • Imprint: Elsevier Science
  • eBook ISBN: 9780080534886

About the Authors

E.A. Maier

Affiliations and Expertise

European Commission, Standards, Measurements and Testing Programme (DG XII), Rue de la Loi 200, 1049 Brussels, Belgium

Ph. Quevauviller

Affiliations and Expertise

Directorate XII, Commission of the European Communities, Bruxelles, Belgium

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