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Start of Metrology for Safe Food and Clean Air Capacity Building Programmes

Laboratory programmes for capacity building and knowledge transfer in Metrology for Safe Food and Clean Air have started in the BIPM Chemistry Department.

The Mycotoxin Metrology CB&KT programme started in April 2017, with Dr Xiuqin Li, from NIM (China) joining the BIPM as a visiting scientist for a period of 1 year. Dr Li will be developing methods for the characterization of aflatoxin B1 and zearalenone pure materials. These will be the basis of calibration solutions that will support training and skills-broadening secondments on mycotoxin calibrant preparation and characterization methods to be organized at the BIPM from 2017 to 2019.

The issue of food safety and trade is a major concern for countries developing metrology and quality assurance systems. Ensuring the safety of food has been a major focus of recent international and national action. Both microbiological and chemical hazards are of concern, including the contamination of food and feed by mycotoxins (toxic metabolites of fungi), which are significant sources of food-borne illnesses. The knowledge that mycotoxins can have serious effects on humans and animals has led many countries to establish regulations on mycotoxins in food and feed in the last decades to safeguard the health of humans, as well as the economic interests of producers and traders. Over 100 countries have implemented specific regulatory limits for mycotoxins in foodstuffs and feedstuffs, and these need to be supported by a sound measurement infrastructure for mycotoxin analysis in order to enforce and verify products, protect populations and avoid technical barriers to trade in food stuffs. This project is designed to allow the BIPM and NMIs to work together to strengthen mycotoxin metrology infrastructure; provide knowledge transfer to scientists who are developing capabilities in this area; and enable NMIs to provide mycotoxin calibrants and matrix reference material and proficiency test materials to support mycotoxin testing laboratories within their countries.

The capacity building programme will be extended with visiting scientist training programmes foreseen at NIM (China) on Mycotoxin matrix certified reference materials as well as training on analytical methods for mycotoxins at NMISA (South Africa). In addition to providing staff resources to support the programme, NIM has donated the pure materials required to deliver the programme. Training secondments of three visiting scientists from NMIs to the BIPM in 2017 are being supported by the PTB.

Air pollution can cause both short-term and long-term effects on health and many people are concerned about pollution in the air that they breathe. This in turn has resulted in regulations on air quality and requirements to monitor gaseous pollutant concentrations, for which traceable gas concentration standards are required. The BIPM comparison programme on air quality and greenhouse gas standards has relied on Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) methods for the analysis NO2, NO, HCHO, CO2 and CH4 gas standard concentrations. This has led to the development of a capacity and knowledge transfer programme in metrology for clean air at the BIPM, focused on knowledge transfer on the use of FTIR for gas standard analysis. The programme started in June 2016, with Mr Manuel de J. Avila from CENAM (Mexico) joining the BIPM on a skills broadening secondment on FTIR operation and analysis of FTIR spectra for gas analysis.

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