Radiation Protection and Environment

: 2021  |  Volume : 44  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 121--122

ISO/IEC 17025: Accreditation standard for testing and calibration laboratories

DD Rao 
 Editor, RPE; Ex. Radiation Safety Systems Division, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
D D Rao
Editor, RPE; Ex. Radiation Safety Systems Division, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai, Maharashtra

How to cite this article:
Rao D D. ISO/IEC 17025: Accreditation standard for testing and calibration laboratories.Radiat Prot Environ 2021;44:121-122

How to cite this URL:
Rao D D. ISO/IEC 17025: Accreditation standard for testing and calibration laboratories. Radiat Prot Environ [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Jun 28 ];44:121-122
Available from: https://www.rpe.org.in/text.asp?2021/44/3/121/334784

Full Text

ISO/IEC 17025 is an accreditation standard for competence of testing and calibration laboratories (labs). It lays down the “general requirements for the competence of testing and calibration labs.” The testing and calibration labs possessing this standard deemed to have all the necessary requirements to produce reliable and precise results. The standard is applicable for a variety of categories and parameters, such as mechanical, electrical, food safety, medical devices, medical diagnostics, radiological testing, and calibrations.

The standard was jointly developed by the experts from the International Organization for Standards (ISO), International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC), and other liaison committees in 1999. The ISO/IEC 17025 standard has been updated in 2005 and in 2017 to incorporate the latest developments in measuring technologies and information technologies and also to be in sync with other ISO standards such as ISO 9001.

Many industries (clients) seek or insist on accreditation (accredited lab) for ISO 17025 for testing their samples for physical, chemical, biological, and radiological parameters and also for calibration of their equipment. Many private labs in India, testing for nonradiological parameters and nonradiological calibrations, are accredited for ISO/IEC 17025 by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL), India.

For radiological testing and calibrations, a few private labs are accredited for ISO/IEC 17025 for testing, largely, gross alpha and gross beta in packaged drinking water and a few labs for calibration of radiation monitoring instruments. Till few years back, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) was responsible for approval of labs (both private and DAE) for carrying out radiological testing and measurements. The approval from AERB was granted based on fulfilling certain conditions as laid down by the AERB, but not in accordance with ISO 17025 standards. However, the key elements/clauses of ISO 17025 were part of the AERB conditions in granting approval for labs, if not in full. Since 2018, the AERB has stopped according the approvals and instead requested the labs to approach NABL for accreditation. In view of this, all the testing and calibration labs (both private and DAE) involved in radiological measurements need to approach NABL for accreditation, if they wish to get accredited.

Some of the major benefits/advantages of accreditation for ISO/IEC 17025 are as follows:

It enables the lab to demonstrate that they operate competently, to an agreed frame work, generating valid resultsThe efficiency of the lab increases and the lab gains a strong competitive edgeIt enhances the reliability of test results generated by the labIt can establish technical competency in the event of a speculation and/or legitimacy issuesIt facilitates traceability of measurements and calibrations to optimum standardsIt establishes technical competency of staff and maintains a record of test equipment.It ensures the accuracy of test results, validity and correctness of test and calibration methodsIt ensures the quality of the testing environment and sampling methodsIt ensures that some basic requirements are adhered to in relation to other standards such as good management practices and good lab practicesIt enables the lab to have a national/global imageTest reports/certificates are acceptable to one country to other, without the need for further testingIt enables periodic internal and external audits.

The DAE testing labs such as Environmental Survey Laboratories attached to Nuclear Power stations and Nuclear mines, Health Physics Labs at Nuclear Installations, and power stations, though perform measurements of radioactivity with high standards, do not have the standard accreditations. In view of the points discussed in this Editorial, many of these labs (barring a few restricted entry labs) can obtain ISO/IEC 17025 from NABL, India. It is high time for these labs to get accredited as the international requirements are bound to come sooner than expected, particularly in food safety category for radioactivity testing.