Reference materials provide the foundation for assessment of analytical chemistry methods, accurate quantification of occupational and environmental exposures, and conduct of in vitro and in vivo toxicology studies for health effects research. Although the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) supplies industry, academia, government, and other users with over 1300 reference materials of the highest quality and metrological value, the number of beryllium reference materials is limited. Currently available beryllium reference materials include standard spectroscopy solutions of beryllium and copper-beryllium alloy in the form of blocks, chips, and rods. Beryllium is present as a trace element in some standard soil-sludge, coal fly ash, and urine reference materials. Beryllium on filter media was available at one time, but is not currently available. A number of opportunities exist for identification and development of needed beryllium reference materials for beryllium-containing ores, beryllium oxide, beryllium metal, beryllium metal-matrix materials, beryllium-containing alloys, and beryllium in biological samples. These opportunities will require multidisciplinary and multi-organizational collaboration. Needed actions include consensus on the relevant chemical and physical forms of beryllium; market analyses of demand for the materials; identification of candidate industrial or laboratory-produced samples of the materials; selection of samples that meet criteria for uniformity, physical form, measured quantities, and continued availability; development of production protocols for collection and preparation of the materials, including adequate provisions for occupational health and environmental protection; incorporation of these materials into a supply, distribution, and cost-recovery infrastructure; and continued feedback and information sharing to ensure that the reference materials are meeting user needs or are modified as necessary. Lessons from other major initiatives for reference materials of lead, silica, and similar materials provide guidance on how to optimize and implement an enhanced program for beryllium reference materials.
Robert L. Watters, Jr., Chief, Measurement Services Division, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD 20899-2320