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May 20

World Metrology Day – why measurement matters

Today is World Metrology Day – a day to celebrate the science of measurement and the signing of the Metre Convention on 20 May 1875. The Convention set the framework for global collaboration in the science of measurement and in its industrial, commercial and societal application. Without accurate and reliable measurement, you wouldn’t know how much fuel you have put in your car, you wouldn’t be able to measure ingredients to bake a cake and you wouldn’t know how safe your food, water, medicines and beauty products are.

Petrol pumpAs the UK’s designated National Measurement Institute for chemical and bioanalytical measurement, LGC is joining the celebrations for World Metrology Day, which this year highlights “Measurements and the global energy challenge”.

Biofuels have long been heralded as an answer to the global energy challenge. However debate around competition for land use between first generation biofuels (conventional crops) and food and feed production is long standing, and a clear indicator of the need for sustainability of new energy sources. Development of methods for the determination of the geographical and biological origin of biofuels is therefore important for ensuring both sustainability and commercial aspects of biofuels.

Building on previously developed isotope ratio measurement capability, LGC has participated in a project to evaluate the feasibility of using carbon, oxygen and hydrogen isotope ratio measurements as a tool for determining the source and origin of biofuels.

But it is not just through our work with biofuels that LGC is aiding modern society. Our research spans across the environmental, clinical, pharmaceutical, food, and chemical sectors and underpins some of the most challenging chemical, physical and biological measurements important to UK regulation, industrial competitiveness, and quality of life.

For example, our recent research has played a key role in developing the underpinning metrology which supports testing strategies in the regenerative medicine area through the development of measurement methodologies required to characterise products, and through the production of documentary standards.

Our scientists have developed a new method for the characterisation of titanium dioxide particles in sunscreens, which involves the development of an improved extraction method for nanoparticle isolation. It is essential that sunscreens – and all other nanoproducts – are safe at all stages of their life-cycle and that the public and the environment are adequately protected from any adverse effects.

The importance of the mineral selenium to human health has become increasingly recognised in recent years, and studies suggest that fortified foods can offer potential health benefits. However, there is a fine balance between toxic and beneficial effects of selenium. LGC researchers have used their expertise in selenium analysis to develop a range of reference materials to ensure food and supplement manufacturers can verify the composition and safety of their products.

With more than 50 research projects currently underway, LGC is at the leading edge of science and innovation that has far reaching benefits to everybody – something that certainly deserves celebrating on World Metrology Day!

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