Enhancing trade between the United States and the nations of the European Union (EU) while helping ensure the safety and quality of goods sold in both markets is the goal of a collaborative agreement signed on Dec. 17, 2007, between the European Commission (EC) Joint Research Centre (JRC)'s Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements (IRMM) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The pact will advance the development and availability of international measurement standards in the fields of chemistry, life sciences and emerging technologies.
Alejandro Herrero, director of the IRMM, signed the agreement in Geel, Belgium, on behalf of the EC, and Willie May, director of NIST's Chemical Science and Technology Laboratory, signed for the United States.
Under the agreement, the JRC and NIST will work to better coordinate their research and development programs in metrology. This will include collaborative research on new measurement methods and their quality assurance, including but not limited to cooperation in the preparation and value-assignment of certified reference materials (artifacts certified as having specific component content or characteristics that are used for calibrating instruments or procedures, for validating the accuracy of measurement methods and as quality control benchmarks for industrial processes). The JRC and NIST also plan to share resources and harmonize their respective regional and national responsibilities for chemical metrology, biometrology and international measurement standards.
NIST and the JRC are establishing a work plan that will detail specific projects and activities, including workshops and conferences. Specific topics already identified for such meetings are:
measurement methods and standards for hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (i.e. RoHs, the EU's Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive);
reference materials for the analysis of potentially dangerous polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); and
new measurement methods, technologies and standards for biofuels, multiplex biological measurements and the health and environmental effects of engineered nanomaterials.
For more information on the IRMM, go to http://irmm.jrc.ec.europa.eu/html/homepage.htm.