Driving under the influence of alcohol is a criminal offence. The accuracy of the measurement result produced is critical. Should the driver be found guilty they would have a criminal record for life. The NMISA Organic Analysis Section continues to support the South African National Department of Health (NDOH) forensic pathology laboratories with the provision of certified reference materials of the highest accuracy for use in blood-alcohol analysis. CRMs provide laboratories with a means to establish traceability for their measurement results. The use of NMISA high purity calibration CRMs as solutions (ethanol and sodium fluoride), provide traceability for blood alcohol measurements. These ethanol calibration solutions are produced in 25 mL and 500 mL format, the latter specifically for calibration for breathalysers using the waterbath method.
Food analysis – safety and nutritional health
Ensuring consumer food health and safety is an international concern supported by numerous legal regulations. For this reason, the presence of contaminants and nutritional content in food is routinely monitored. Whether domestically produced, imported or exported, agricultural commodities need to be accurately tested by competent analytical laboratories.
The NMISA Organic Analysis Section endeavours to assist South African analytical laboratories through the provision of reference measurement services for PT schemes, which can be used to demonstrate laboratory accuracy and competency as required by ISO 17025.
Current measurements include, multiple mycotoxins in maize; ochratoxin-A in wine; melamine in milk; pesticide residues in fruit and vegetables; veterinary drug residues in milk and meat; and protein content and quality (amino acid content) in milk and grains.
Green Economies: Environmental Pollution monitoring analysis
Monitoring toxic persistent organic pollutants (POPs), in particular dioxins, PCBs, PAHs and pesticides, involve complex measurements. There is currently no routine South African/African analytical laboratory fully equipped with the instrumentation and skilled staff required to analyse dioxins. To assist these labs in finding a cost-effective, but still accurate, alternative for monitoring these pollutants, the NMISA has started setting up a dioxin analytical POPs facility in 2017/18.
Since 2005, the NMISA Organic Laboratory has established analytical expertise in the analysis of dioxins and other POPs in biotic and abiotic matrices, applying comprehensive GCxGC-TOFMS. This capability has recently expanded to include targeted analysis applying GC-MS/MS and GC-API-MS/MS. Collaboration with international institutions has resulted in various lectures and peer-reviewed publications that have placed South Africa in the international arena as having a dioxin analytical capability.