The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa is one of the leading scientific and technology research, development and implementation organisations in Africa. It undertakes directed research and development for socio-economic growth.

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August 2010


Is it safe, is it clean, is it fresh?

Chemical analysis to support industry, government and other stakeholders

The CSIR provides a range of specialist analytical laboratory services for various industries and clients locally as well as across Africa. The accuracy and quality of these services are critical for quality control purposes and ensuring industry compliance to regulatory requirements.

In the order of 5 000 to 6 000 tests are undertaken each month at the CSIR's environmental laboratory in Pretoria by analytical chemists who determine organic, inorganic and microbiological characteristics of the samples. Analyses cover soil, sediment, water, and air for bacteria, viruses, minerals, metals, organic compounds and nutrients. Water from ponds, pools and rivers, boreholes and mines, drinking and even bottled water is regularly received for analysis. Drinking water is commonly analysed for microorganisms, metals, anions, and tri-halomethanes which are by-products of disinfection. Effluent testing, waste classification is also an important service offered. The air and water quality analysis from circulation systems at, for example, hospitals, cooling towers, stack emissions are other important areas where analysts assist. Some of the more unusual sample types handled include mussels and glue.

Big brands in consumables count among the clients of food and beverage testing services. Based in the Western Cape, the team of analysts frequently deal with products from the fishing, fruit processing and alcoholic beverages industries. In fact, the CSIR has the single test laboratory for biotoxins in shellfish in the region. Here too, quality control and regulatory compliance drive the need to ensure proper content analysis of products including both nutritional anlaysis as well as contaminate testing.

The CSIR's consulting and analytical services laboratories comply with the requirements of the SANAS, ISO 17025. SANAS is the single national accreditation body recognised by the SA government. Regular internal and independent external audits are conducted to ensure the laboratories remain compliant. The laboratories participate in national and international proficiency-testing schemes, to demonstrate quality control and analytical performance.

For more information visit the CSIR web site, or download the Environmental Analysis fact sheet.

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