BERM 13 and IAEA Reference Materials:
Facilitating International Cooperation in the Scientific Community

One of the IAEA’s roles in facilitating the peaceful applications of nuclear technology around the world is to ensure that laboratories in Member States are able to share scientific knowledge and resources effectively. In order for analytical data to be comparable and reliable between laboratories in different countries, it is vital that everyone follow the same universally accepted system of units. Reference materials (RMs), which can be defined as any material, device or physical system for which definitive numerical values can be associated with specific properties and that is used to calibrate a measurement instrument or for quality assurance purposes, are essential in this regard. In order to assist Member States in producing reliable and fit for purpose analytical results, the IAEA provides a variety of matrix reference materials.

BERM 13 and IAEA Reference Materials: Facilitating International Cooperation in the Scientific CommunityThe IAEA has a specific interest in biological and environmental reference materials and is a main producer of reference materials characterized for radionuclides, while also providing a number of RMs of marine origin, characterized for trace elements and inorganic contaminants. The IAEA has recently consolidated its activities related to RM production under the subprogramme “IAEA Products for Science and Trade”, and has strengthened its collaboration with various organizations, such as the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM), the Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements (IRMM), the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Commission (EC), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the USA, as well as with a number of the IAEA Collaborating Centres. In this way, the IAEA ensures that it is able to provide laboratories in its Member States with the high quality materials for calibration and quality control.

The 13th International Symposium on Biological and Environmental Reference Materials (BERM 13), which is schedule to take place in Vienna from 25-29 June, will provide participants with a unique opportunity to interact with key players from around the world that are involved in the development, production, distribution and use of RMs in order to help facilitate greater international cooperation. As a major, well-established international event, the BERM 13 is the continuation of a series of BERM Symposia that have been held on a regular basis since 1987. In addition to covering developments in the field of RMs since the previous symposium, BERM 13 will also address future trends and needs, such as the role of RMs in lowering trade barriers, specifically in least developed and developing countries. Topics will also include RMs for nutrition and safety, emergency preparedness, as well as emerging technologies such as nanotechnology and biotechnology.

BERM 13 and IAEA Reference Materials: Facilitating International Cooperation in the Scientific Community Because RMs are used in practically all measurements, the target audience for this symposium is very broad and not limited to a specific scientific area. Apart from traditional fields, such as analytical chemistry, this symposium should be of interest to scientists from all kinds of disciplines due to the strong connection between the development of new analytical methods and instrumentation, and RM production and use. Moreover, government officials, including policymakers and officials responsible for the assessment of environmental contamination, would benefit from attending the symposium.

Although online registration has closed, participation is still possible by sending your completed Participation Form through the competent official authority (Ministry of Foreign Affairs or National Atomic Energy Authority) to the IAEA.

For details on BERM 13, please visit the conference website.

For more information on the work of the IAEA in producing reference materials, visit