At the 14th CGPM in 1971 the list of base units of the SI was completed by adding the mole as base unit for amount of substance, following requests to the CIPM from the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), the International Union of Pure an Applied Physics (IUPAP) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
In recent years awareness of the importance of metrology in chemistry has grown as the world's economy becomes ever more global. International trade, human health and safety, and environmental protection measures often enforced through legislation as well as regulations and standardization require clear comparability and international traceability with respect to the results of chemical measurements and chemical analyses.
The BIPM Chemistry Department was established in 2000, following a decision of the CIPM. The Chemistry Department's programmes are currently focused on:
- Gas metrology with facilities for the coordination of comparisons in support of the international equivalence of gas standards for air quality and greenhouse gas monitoring;
- Organic analysis with facilities for the purity determination of organic pure substances and the coordination of primary calibrator purity assessment comparisons for small molecules with relevance to clinical chemistry, food analysis, environmental analysis, forensics and pharma.
The Department's progammes are allied to the work of the CCQM Working Group on Gas Analysis (GAWG) and the CCQM Working Group on Organic Analysis (OAWG), and the CCQM comparisons of national chemical measurement capabilities and standards.
Chemistry is the theme for World Metrology Day in 2011.
The final report for the 'Study of Measurement Service and Comparison Needs for an International Measurement Infrastructure for the Biosciences and Biotechnology: Input for the BIPM Work Programme' was published in March 2011 and is available to download.