Singapore Launches Infrastructure for Metrology in Chemistry (MiC) to Realise Accurate, Traceable and Internationally Comparable Chemical and Biological Measurements

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The chemicals industry contributed S$59 (US$48) billion to Singapore’s economy in 2009, and Singapore is establishing itself as a global chemical and biomedical hub. A*STAR’s National Metrology Centre and the Health Sciences Authority have jointly set up a national metrology in chemistry infrastructure to ensure that chemical and biological measurements performed in Singapore are accurate, traceable and internationally accepted for chemicals, food, pharmaceutical, medical and healthcare products and services sectors.

Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)

The National Metrology Centre (NMC) of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) have jointly set up a national Metrology in Chemistry (MiC) infrastructure. Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Education, Mr S. Iswaran announced the launch of the MiC infrastructure at the Metrology in Chemistry- Essential for Pollution Control and Climate Change Monitoring symposium on 3 November 2010. This event is in conjunction with a one-week international event comprising workshops, symposia and meetings held in Singapore for the first time from 1 to 5 November 2010.

The new metrology capabilities at NMC and HSA will help Singapore-based enterprises achieve chemical measurements of international standards, giving them the critical advantage in accessing international markets for chemicals, food, pharmaceutical, medical and healthcare products and services. The primary beneficiaries of the new infrastructure are the chemicals and biomedical sectors which require accurate and comparable chemical and biological measurements. The industry will be able to tap the MiC facility and expertise at NMC and HSA to validate measurements for health, safety and environmental protection, and gain international acceptance for their measurement results.

MiC Infrastructure – Key to Achieving Comparability of Analytical Data

Scientific measurements provide important information to serve as an objective basis for the formulation of policies; facilitation of trade; enforcement of regulations; evaluation of food and product safety; protection of our environment; and advancement of science. A unified system of measurement units, and its equivalence among economies, is vitally important to achieving measurement comparability worldwide. Singapore is a signatory of the 135-year old international diplomatic treaty which now forms the basis for member states to propagate the use of the International System of Units (SI) within their countries.

MiC, or Chemical Metrology, is the science of achieving accurate and traceable analytical data in chemical measurements. For analytical data to be traceable and comparable, they have to be based on a common reference, the SI. In testing laboratories, this is normally achieved by comparing the data produced by analytical instruments against reference standards, known as certified reference materials, whose values have been assigned or validated by the national metrology institute; the use of standardised methodologies; and participation in comparative studies. One of the important tasks of the national metrology institutes is to ensure that the reference standards available to the users are traceable to the SI and globally comparable.

MiC Programmes to Assist Industry

To assist the industry in achieving traceable chemical measurements, A*STAR NMC, which is Singapore’s national metrology institute, has established MiC capability in the field of gas metrology. Traceable gas measurement is essential for many applications: from pollution control (see box stories) and monitoring of ambient and indoor air quality, to a myriad of industrial processes in power generation, chemicals, petrochemicals, electronics and waste management. HSA, which has been appointed as the Designated Institute, has also set up MiC in food, pharmaceutical, medical, healthcare and forensics. Together, NMC and HSA will provide metrological support to Singapore-based enterprises in the area of: assignment of reference values; certified reference materials (CRMs) that are traceable to the SI; validation of measurement methods; and proficiency testing programmes to help laboratories improve their processes.

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