Interscan started the real analytics movement in the field of gas detection, to demonstrate that at least one company is serious about assuring the best possible analytical accuracy in every measurement our instruments make. After all, the very term “gas detector,” which is far more common than “gas analyzer,” immediately reminds one of detector tubes, which are not exactly renowned for their accuracy.
Moreover, “detecting” something does not mean quite the same thing as “analyzing” something.
But beyond the semantics, nearly all direct-reading gas analyzers must be calibrated against a known standard. Thus, the accuracy parameter is already one step removed from the gas analyzer manufacturer, and it is so easy to base published specifications on “accuracy limited to that of the calibration standard.”
In truth, many measuring devices must be calibrated, even if this is often forgotten. A common example that occurs in industrial hygiene is calibration of personal and environmental sampling pumps.
We were forced to up our game in calibration—a few years ago—after obtaining inconsistent results from certain permeation devices. In light of this and other related issues, we brought in an analytical chemist. He helped us resolve our difficulties with the perm tubes, and is responsible for our well-received Knowledge Base article entitled “Perm tube tech: Rigorous discussion of ‘K’ value and best way to calculate gas concentration.”
We then had the problem of developing in-house calibration methods for hydrogen bromide, hydrogen peroxide, and peracetic acid—since no commercial standards are available for these chemicals. In essence, we figured out how to generate controlled atmospheres of these compounds, and then subject the sample stream to classic wet chemical analysis, to produce our standards. The peracetic acid method in particular has impressed some key agencies, including NIOSH.
Along with these activities, we upgraded much lab equipment, including better software to handle the analytical results.
In short, we try to practice real analytics at Interscan—every single day.