The U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Standards Council of Canada today renewed an agreement to help facilitate trade between the world's two largest trading partners.
The agreement—signed by Arati Prabhakar, NIST director, and Michael McSweeney, SCC executive director—provides mutual recognition of testing laboratories located within the territorial United States that are accredited by the NIST National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program, and for testing laboratories within Canada that are accredited by SCC's Program for Accreditation of Laboratories, Canada.
NIST and SCC base their decision to accredit a testing laboratory on similar but not always identical criteria. Both programs meet the requirements of international standards for accrediting laboratories under ISO/IEC Guide 25: 1990—General Requirements for the Competence of Calibration and Testing Laboratories, and the operation of accrediting programs under ISO/IEC Guide 58: 1993—Calibration and Testing Laboratory Accreditation Systems-General Requirements for Operation and Recognition. Officials responsible for administering each system have participated in assessment visits to testing laboratories accredited under the other national program.
Established in 1976, the NVLAP program is a U.S. system whereby organizations and individuals request NIST to establish a laboratory accreditation program. On an individual basis, laboratories seek accreditation for demonstrating competence to perform specific test methods.
Among the many benefits of NVLAP accreditation are a quality-assurance check on laboratory performance, substantive advice for improving performance and national recognition of competency. Accreditation also helps users from industry, government and other sectors to identify providers of assured quality of testing services.
NVLAP currently accredits more than 900 laboratories in the following fields of testing: acoustical, asbestos fiber analysis, carpet, commercial products (paint, paper, plastics, plumbing, and seals and sealants), computer applications, construction materials, electromagnetic compatibility and telecommunications, energy-efficient lighting, ionizing radiation dosimetry, solid-fuel room heaters and thermal insulation.
The Canadian PALCAN program was established in 1980. Accreditation of competence to manage and perform specific tests has been granted to 150 private-sector and government laboratories in scientific, engineering and technological fields including: food and agricultural products, chemicals and chemical products, construction materials, elastomers and coatings, electrical and electronic products, environmental testing, marketplace products (consumer and business), medical systems, metallic ores and products, metrology, non-destructive examination, non-metallic minerals and products, textiles and fibrous materials, and wood products. Laboratories accredited under the SCC PALCAN program form part of the National Standards System of Canada.
For information on PALCAN, contact the Manager, Testing Division, Standards Council of Canada, 1200 - 45 O'Connor Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1P 6N7, (613) 238-3222, fax: (613) 995-4564.
For information on the U.S. National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program, contact NVLAP, A162 Building 411, NIST, Gaithersburg, Md. 20899-0001, (301) 975-4016, fax: (301) 926- 2884.
As a non-regulatory agency of the Commerce Department's Technology Administration, NIST promotes U.S. economic growth by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards.