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Analytical Chemistry Division (V)



On the occasion of the 40th IUPAC General Assembly, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, 7 to 14 August 1999, the IUPAC Interdivisional Working Party on Harmonisation of Quality Assurance Schemes for Analytical Laboratories (WP) [1] has reviewed its activities for the two year period and prepared its working plan for the next biennium.

Status of projects

Protocol for the use of recovery factors >Project 501/7/95
The project was successfully accomplished with the publication of the technical report "Harmonised Guidelines for the Use of Recovery Information in Analytical Measurement" [2]. The resulting technical document gives guidelines that are intended to be general in their scope and gives recommendations that reflect the common practice best able to achieve the comparability of analytical results. A strong international impact of these guidelines in the field of chemical measurements is expected. However, specific sectors of analytical chemistry will need to develop these guidelines for their own requirements, and the recommendations are not, therefore, to be seen as binding for all areas of analytical chemistry. It has to be pointed out that in the case of this project the WP's international co-operation was expanded and besides IUPAC, ISO and AOAC Int. also EURACHEM was formally involved for the first time. Document can be accessed via Internet <http://www.vtt.fi/ket/eurachem/publications.htm>.

Compilation and clarification of quality assurance related nomenclature >Project 501/9/97
The result of the project is a compilation of approximately 1400 terms from 18 literature sources - mainly standards, in alphabetical order with identification of the source where the term can be found as well as an indication whether the definition of the same term in different sources is the same or not. This compilation, entitled "Alphabetical index of defined terms and where they can be found", will be published in three parts in the journal Accreditation and Quality Assurance. The users will be provided with a ready means of establishing whether a particular term has an official definition and if so where it is located. Compilation might be used as a source of information also at the discussion on the revision of the International Vocabulary on Basic and General Terms in Metrology (VIM). This work was completely carried out by D. Holcombe, LGC UK. The WP would like to acknowledge his efforts.

Protocol for in-house method validation >Project 501/8/97
The draft protocol was prepared by R. Wood and M. Thompson and presented at the WP meeting. After being completed, the document will be circulated to WP members, other IUPAC Divisions and co-operating organisations for comments. As part of the project, an international workshop on "Principles and Practices of Method Validation" will be organised together with the IUPAC Commission on Agrochemicals and the Environment (VI.4) and in co-operation with the FAO/IAEA Joint Division and AOAC Int. The workshop will take place between 4 and 6 November 1999, Budapest, Hungary. After international discussion and approval, the document will be submitted for publication in the journal Pure and Applied Chemistry. The project is expected to be accomplished in the year 2000. In addition to the planned activities also an international workshop on "Proper Use of Matrix Reference Materials" was organised on co-operation with ISO/REMCO, BAM Berlin and EUROLAB Germany in Berlin, Germany, between 21 and 23 April 1999. For more information see the August 1999 issue of this journal [3].

New projects

Up-dating of the IUPAC "Harmonised Protocol for the Proficiency Testing of (Chemical) Analytical Laboratories: The current version of the IUPAC protocol was published in 1993 [4]. This protocol has been adopted by a number of international organisations and it is used as the basis for the majority of proficiency testing schemes carried out in the analytical community. It is incorporated into legislation in the food sector, most notably by endorsement by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. It is now appropriate for the protocol to be revised in the light of experience of its usage. In particular, the following points will be addressed in a revision of the protocol:

  • procedures for the treatment of z-scores when the default value for not detected is within the acceptable range;
  • further information on the selection of the target standard deviations;
  • further information on the homogeneity/inhomogeneity of testing material;
  • the treatment of measurement uncertainty considerations by proficiency testing schemes.

The work will be progressed through an international workshop at which there will be invited presentations followed by discussion on the revision of the protocol.

New structure of the information system on Certified Reference Materials: Nowadays, the index Code of Reference Materials (COMAR) provides information on some ten thousand CRMs coming from more than 200 producers from more than 20 countries. Searching possibilities have to be upgraded and made easy for use. A new information system will mainly be based on the use of keywords. Every CRM shall be characterised by a harmonised keyword list, which should be used for the coding as well as for the interrogation. This will allow everybody in the analytical laboratory to have easy access via Internet or CD-ROM. The work related to the new structure of the data base is related to chemical nomenclature and IUPAC is the most appropriate organisation and the WP the appropriate body to carry out this activity. Co-operation with other IUPAC Divisions, ISO/REMCO, AOAC. Int., CITAC and EURACHEM is foreseen.

Traceability concept in chemical measurement: A traceability concept for chemical measurements has to be developed and presented to the chemical community in an understandable and applicable way. The existing confusion and misinterpretation related to the term traceability has to be solved with the help of practical examples. The role and responsibility of metrological institutions, field analytical chemists and reference materials producers in establishing a complete traceability chain has to be clearly defined. The WP was identified as the appropriate body within IUPAC to carry out this work. However, there is still a large theoretical component of the project. Co-operation with other international organisations, i.e. CCQM, OIML, etc. is foreseen.

Future structure and the role of the harmonisation working party

It is expected that the WP will remain in the IUPAC structure even after the IUPAC restructuring, which should be accomplished in the year 2001. However, this can only be justified if the WP is able to demonstrate its usefulness for the international chemical community and IUPAC itself. Our goal is to become a central body of the IUPAC for quality assurance related matters. To this aim, in the next two years the terms of reference will be adjusted to the new IUPAC "project oriented organisation", and will have to reflect also the role that the WP should have as an neutral body in the international harmonisation in the field of quality assurance in chemistry. Positive feedback from other organisations, i.e. AOAC Int., EURACHEM, CITAC, ISO/REMCO, etc., is an encouraging factor with respect to this goal.

Regarding the membership of the WP, the idea is to reduce the number of members to those who are linked to one or more IUPAC projects, and to have fix contact points within IUPAC divisions and/or commissions and liaison with other international organisations or bodies from the field. A traditional co-operation with ISO and AOAC Int. should further be expanded, as was already the case with EURACHEM. WP will stay opened also to all interested individuals, who might be included in our mailing list and being informed on all WP activities.

Additional information on current WP activities, reports and members can be obtained from the IUPAC home page under: http://www.iupac.org.


  1. Fajgelj A, Parkany M (1998) Accred Qual Assur 3 : 163-165
  2. Thompson M, Ellison SL, Fajgelj A, Willets P, Wood R (1999) Pure Appl Chem 71: 337-348
  3. Fajgelj A (1999) Accred Qual Assur 4 : 370-371
  4. Thompson M, Wood R (1993) Pure Appl Chem 95 : 2123-2144
Aleš Fajgelj
International Atomic Energy Agency
Agency's Laboratories
A-2444, Seibersdorf, Austria

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