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Legal Metrology


A pound is a pound is a pound, right?

Luckily, when you buy something in the United States, you can be extremely confident that you are getting the quantity you paid for, whether it’s a liter of soda or a gallon of gasoline. That’s because states use NIST handbooks that provide nationally recognized standards for commercial measurement systems. Those standards guide thousands of weights and measures inspections each day, in a vast range of businesses—from retail stores and fueling stations to manufacturing facilities, mines, and recycling centers.

Now NIST’s Office of Weights and Measures, part of the Physical Measurement Laboratory, has announced publication of the 2017 Editions of three of NIST’s most recognized handbooks in legal metrology, which since 1905 have helped ensure consumer and business protection, as well as traceability to NIST.

NIST Handbook 44, “Specifications, Tolerances and Other Technical Requirements for Weighing and Measuring Devices,” now includes updated tolerances for hydrogen measuring devices to support the establishment of “hydrogen highways” through-out the country.

NIST Handbook 133, “Checking the Net Contents of Packaged Goods,” now includes new test methods and equipment specifications for the net quantity of contents of packaged animal bedding, and new test procedures for determining the volume of packaged and bulk firewood.

NIST Handbook 130, “Uniform Laws and Regulations in the Areas of Legal Metrology and Engine Fuel Quality,” is a compilation of uniform laws that states can use as models. Several of the regulations are automatically adopted by more than 35 states each year upon publication of the handbook; the remaining states have used previous editions of the handbook to adopt uniform labeling and method of sale requirements for a wide variety of commodities.


Created January 9, 2017, Updated November 15, 2019