What is NIST-Traceability?

NIST-traceable standards are reference materials that have been certified to specific values. These values - set by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) - have been specifically developed to enable standardized instrument calibration.

They also enable the development of quality assurance protocols to better eliminate measurement uncertainties.

To be considered ‘NIST-traceable,’ all calibrations used in a standard must be part of an unbroken chain of comparisons from the manufacturer to the end-user. This is essentially where the term ‘traceability’ originates.

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Understanding NIST-Traceability

Traceability is key to a number of elemental analysis and wet chemistry applications. In this context, the traceability of measurements refers to systemic reliability and, as such, reliability of results relative to an accepted set of standards.

This concept forms the underlying premise of standardized metrology and the international system of units (SI). Despite this, the traceability of chemical measurements is a comparatively new concept compared to the traceability of physical parameters.

NIST develops and disseminates SI realizations of basic measurement quantities and uncertainties.

This work incorporates the federal standard reference material (SRM) program, which aims toward total traceability in method development and validation for analytical facilities – including the development of NIST-traceable standards.

A number of criteria must be met to ensure full NIST traceability. It is also a requirement that these criteria are met at each stage of the traceability chain and not just by the end-user.

At each touchpoint in the chain, the uncertainty of measurement should be calculated and stated explicitly. This allows an overall estimation of uncertainty to be made.

Each step must also be carried out in line with documented procedures, with all results recorded. Facilities in the chain should be able to prove technical competence, potentially via accreditation.

NIST-traceability in Practice

While NIST-traceability is a simple, straightforward concept, this can appear daunting. A combination of complete accountability, robust documentation, and demonstrable technical acuity must be implemented at each individual stage of the chain.

NIST-traceable standard manufacturers have a duty to support all claims of traceability, and clear documentation must be available to prove credibility. Robust internal quality assurance programs are required to ensure this.

End-users have a responsibility to assess the validity of manufacturers’ claims. This is key to preserving the unbroken chain of comparisons which is the cornerstone of NIST-traceability.

NIST-Traceable Standards From Inorganic Ventures

Inorganic Ventures is a recognized and reputable CRM manufacturer built on industry-leading quality assurance processes. The company specializes in the development of custom solutions for a diverse array of analytical applications with its portfolio of over 55,000 elemental analysis and wet chemistry blends.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Inorganic Ventures, Inc.

For more information on this source, please visit Inorganic Ventures, Inc.


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