In 1971 NIST issued the first natural environmental matrix SRM for contaminants, SRM 1571 Orchard Leaves, with certified concentrations for trace elements. The development of SRM 1571 Orchard Leaves formalized the approach of combining results from "two or more independent and reliable analytical methods" to assign certified values as applied to natural environmental matrix SRMs for trace element content. During the 1970s, additional natural matrix SRMs for trace element content were developed using this approach including bovine liver, fly ash, spinach, pine needles, water, river and estuarine sediment, air particulate matter, and oyster tissue. A decade later the first environmental matrix SRM for organic contaminants was issued, SRM 1649 Urban Dust/Organics, with certified concentrations for a limited number of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). SRM 1649 and subsequent natural matrix materials issued during the next decade (coal tar, diesel particulate matter, marine sediment, and mussel tissue) established the multiple methods approach for organic contaminants in environmental matrices for PAHs, polychlorinated biphenyls, and chlorinated pesticides. During the past four decades, NIST has issued over 60 natural environmental matrix SRMs with certified values for inorganic and/or organic contaminants.
Many of these SRMs have been developed specifically to address the regulations and needs of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). For example the first air particulate SRMs were developed with support from EPA as well as the house dust materials for trace elements primarily for lead measurements. NOAA was the primary driver for the development of the first marine sediment and mussel tissue SRMs for organic contaminants to support marine monitoring programs initiated in the late 1980s.