IES intercomparison exercise for air quality reference laboratories (October 2008)
Harmonising European air quality measurements
The JRC's European Reference Laboratory for Air Pollution (ERLAP), part of the JRC Institute for Environment and Sustainability in Ispra, Italy, has completed an inter-laboratory comparative study (intercomparison) of air quality reference laboratories and public health institutes in Serbia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Lithuania, Cyprus, Italy, Luxembourg and the City of Amsterdam.
Intercomparison exercises are organised with a view to harmonising air quality measurements across the EU and in order to assure the implementation of Air Quality Directive 2008/50/EC by the responsible bodies in EU Member States. The results of the latest exercise, carried out between the 6th and 9th of October 2008, point to an improvement in the performance of National Air Quality Reference Laboratories (NRLs) in the measurement of gaseous air pollutants such as NO2 and notably the reproducibility of such measurements, with discrepancy down to below 10% from a level of 20% in the 1990s.
The laboratories participating in the exercise benefited from the opportunity to compare their calibration standards and exchange information on measurement standards. A similar exercise is currently carried out among ERLAP intercomparison facility laboratories in Albania, Turkey, Croatia, Slovakia, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands and Portugal.
ERLAP has been organising intercomparison exercises for National Air Quality Reference Laboratories (NRLs) since the early ‘90s. The exercises focus on inorganic gaseous air pollutants and are carried out in collaboration with the World Health Organization's Collaborating Centres (WHO CCs).
Participation in the JRC's intercomparison exercises became obligatory for NRLs with the implementation of Air Quality Directive. Participating laboratories bring their own measurements and calibration instrumentation to JRC-ERLAP which then compares and evaluates results, processing findings according to international guideline ISO 43-1 and judging laboratory performance accordingly.