SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1985

The Role of NBS Standard Reference Materials in Quality Assurance of Environmental Measurements


Analyses of environmental samples of known homogeneity by different laboratories often disagree seriously. Discrepant data may result from poor methodology, improper instrument calibration, faulty experimental techniques, or from a combination of these factors. One approach towards obtaining accurate data is through the use of Standard Reference Materials (SRMs) issued by the National Bureau of Standards under federal statutes. SRMs are homogeneous, stable materials with certified chemical or physical properties, and are used in calibrating instruments, validating laboratory data, developing methods of known accuracy, and referring data from different laboratories to a common base. Of the approximately 900 SRMs listed in the current SRM catalog, over 90 have been developed for use in improving the accuracy of environmental analyses. Environmental matrix SRMs certified for priority pollutants include gases, atmospheric dust, water, sediments, biological materials, and fuels. In addition, calibrator solutions of organic priority pollutants, such as halocarbons, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, are available for determining instrumental response factors, and adding accurate amounts of these compounds to samples.

Author Information

Alvarez, R
Office of Standard Reference Materials, National Bureau of Standards, Gaithersburg, MD
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Developed by Committee: D19
Pages: 346–359
DOI: 10.1520/STP30313S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-4932-8
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-0224-8