Analytical reference materials for laboratories

The IAEA Environmental Laboratories produce certified reference materials for the measurement of radionuclides, trace elements and organic contaminants. These materials can be used for quality assurance and quality control purposes, as well as for method development, validation of analytical procedures and for training.

Through its Marine Environment Laboratories and the Terrestrial Environmental Radiochemistry Laboratory, the IAEA provides about a hundred different certified reference materials that it distributes to over 700 analytical laboratories globally for quality control of equipment, method validation and training. These materials cover analytical areas like stable isotope ratio measurements, radionuclides, trace elements and organic pollutants. Available matrices include dried marine biota tissues (fish, mussels, seaweed etc), marine sediment, chips of marble, ancient wood, strands of human hair and dried cabbage powder.

The labs also produce the Vienna Standard Mean Ocean Water 2 (VSMOW2), an international measurement standard against which all samples worldwide can be measured. Although it contains neither salt nor other substances usually found in seawater, VSMOW2 refers to pure water with a particular mix of stable hydrogen and oxygen isotopes that represent the average of the world’s oceans.

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