May 19

Measurement and alcohol: it’s World Metrology Day!

Tomorrow (20 May) is World Metrology Day, the birthday of the signing of the Metre Convention in 1875. This convention set the framework for global collaboration in the science of measurement (metrology).

Its aim – to ensure we use uniform measurements across the globe ­– remains as important for industry, trade and society today as it was over 140 years ago.

The theme for World Metrology Day 2017 is ‘Measurements for transport’, chosen because transport plays such an important role in the modern world: we travel but so does the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the goods we use and the raw materials they are made from. Ensuring all this travelling happens safely, efficiently and with minimal environmental impact requires a surprising range of measurements.

Calibration to save lives

As the National Measurement Laboratory and Designated Institute for chemical and bio-measurement, LGC forms part of the UK National Measurement System (NMS) that provides the core measurement infrastructure for the UK. The measurements we make support manufacture and trade, protect consumers and enhance quality of life.

LGC’s certified reference alcohol standards play a crucial role in supporting the safe transport of people and goods. The number of people estimated to have been killed in drink drive accidents in Great Britain has decreased from 1,640 in 1979 to 240 in 2013 and routine work-place testing for alcohol use also prevents accidents. LGC ethanol primary reference standards and LGC ethanol calibration services now support 50% of the breathalyser market. In addition, our standards supply 150+ clients for clinic-based work-place testing.

Furthermore, with tax revenues from alcohol sales contributing £10.5 bn to HMRC, the accurate measurement of the alcohol percentage in wines and spirits is critical to correctly calculate duty liability. To support the calibration of automatic density meters routinely used in industry to determine alcoholic strength, LGC supplies certified reference materials to over 40 distilleries, councils and testing laboratories.


Our certified reference materials to support measurement for transport

Contact LGC Standards for more information on these and other materials


Our impact

In our role as a National Measurement Laboratory we develop innovative capabilities to address measurement challenges of the future, supporting government, academia and industry to promote productivity and economic growth. Find out more about the impact of our work.


If you would like to find out how you could use measurement expertise to address your measurement challenges, contact LGC’s Measurement Services.


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