The IAG has been a liaison member of ISO/REMCO since 2005. The two current IAG representatives are Thomas Meisel and Jacinta Enzweiler, who have not only contributed on behalf of the IAG, but also as representatives for all areas of earth sciences where reference materials are used.

ISO/REMCO is the ISO Committee on Reference Materials that carries out and encourages a broad international effort for the harmonization and promotion of reference materials, their production and their application. Its vision is to be the global centre of excellence with respect to issues relating to reference materials.

The Committee, which celebrated its 45th anniversary in 2016, has so far developed six ISO Guides and has contributed to symposia, workshops and congresses. The activities of ISO/REMCO focus on procedures for the production and use of reference materials. To fulfill this mandate, ISO/REMCO interacts with both stakeholders and clients.

Objectives of ISO/REMCO

  • To establish definitions, concepts and classification of reference materials for use by ISO
  • To determine the basic characteristics of reference materials as required by their intended use
  • To formulate criteria for the selection of publications referenced in ISO documents
  • To propose, as far as necessary, actions on reference material issues required to support other ISO activities
  • To prepare guidelines for technical committees when dealing with reference material issues in ISO documents
  • To deal with matters within the competence of the Committee, in relation with other international organizations and to advise the ISO Technical Management Board on actions to be taken.

ISO/REMCO Definitions

Certified Reference Material is defined as:

A reference material, accompanied by documentation issued by an authoritative body and providing one or more specified property values with associated uncertainties and traceabilities using valid procedures.

Thus a certified reference material must meet more stringent metrological requirements than a reference material in terms of the following:

  • ‘accompanied by documentation’ – this is usually a certificate of analysis which in addition to listing certified values and association uncertainties, is required to include other specific details.
  • ‘issued by and authoritative body’ – organisations that issue certificates of analysis are required to be able to demonstrate their competence in this role and must meet certain international criteria. These organisations are often accredited as national standards organisations (e.g. NIST– the US National Institute for Standards and Technology), national geological surveys or international organisations (e.g. IAG – the International Association of Geoanalysts).
  • ‘providing one of more specific property values with associated uncertainties and traceabilities using valid procedures’ – thus certified values must be accompanied by an uncertainty and evidence of traceability.

Reference Material is defined as:

A material, sufficiently homogeneous and stable with reference to specified properties, which has been established to be fit for its intended use in measurement or in examination of nominal properties.

In other words, the properties of a reference material must be ‘fit-for-purpose’ for use in either the calibration of an analytical technique or in ‘measurement trueness control’, for example in assessing the accuracy of an analytical measurement.