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Measurements matter

Measurements are part of our everyday life

From the moment a baby is born parents monitor the weight and height development of their child, and the quantities of food a mother gives to her baby are counted.

Measurements continue to play an important role throughout everybody’s life, for example, during a medical check-up, a sports competition, when building a house, when controlling temperature in appliances, or while cooking.

Legislation also sets regulatory limits to guarantee food safety, to protect the integrity of the environment, and to enable international trade. It is estimated that about 40% of EU Directives involve measurements.

Citizens, consumers, patients, doctors, control authorities, travellers and industry need to be able to rely on sound and comparable measurements to take the right decisions. As a significant part of measurements are done in laboratories, they need to be able to measure correctly and provide reliable results independent of national borders.

One of the core businesses of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) is to provide harmonised accurate, reliable and fit-for-purpose measurement and quality assurance tools. They are necessary to facilitate the millions of measurements made by laboratories around the world in order to ensure the safety of our food, to check the status of our health or to prevent major accidents and contamination of the environment.

The JRC develops, produces and distributes reference materials for

  • establishing measurement scales,
  • calibrating laboratory instruments,
  • checking the trueness of measurement results
  • and as benchmarks in the quality control of laboratories.

Furthermore, it develops standardised analytical methods together with guidelines for better measurements.

A selection of examples shows some of the areas where the JRC has expertise in measurements that matter to all of us:

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