The results of analytical measurements play a vital role in our daily lives. Analytical data may be the basis upon which economic, legal or environmental management decisions are made, and they are essential in international trade, environmental protection, safe transportation, law enforcement, consumer safety and the preservation of human health.
The IAEA established its analytical quality control services in the early 1960s to support Member State laboratories using nuclear analytical techniques. Initial activities focussed on the preparation of environmental Reference Materials (RMs) containing anthropogenic radionuclides. These RMs were characterized for their radionuclide content through laboratory intercomparisons (IC) involving a core group of some 10 to 20 specialist laboratories. The success of these early exercises led the Agency to extend its activities to encompass both terrestrial and marine RMs containing primordial radionuclides, stable isotopes and trace elements.
Today, the Agency distributes more than 90 reference materials and maintains a customer base of about 3000 members. Laboratory Reference Product activities are coordinated by two IAEA laboratories: