Standards please

I deal with “Standards” almost daily, normally ISO or British Standard varieties, each one has a technical committee, BS 88 is a favorite, when you could buy it for pence, but outside its more like the wild west, perhaps we assume too much, so products like water bottled and sunscreen escape close scrutiny.

  • A bottled drinking water study found plastic pieces in nearly all the samples, it gets worse, there is no standard, it was widely reported in the media. So the plastic content in your healthy drinking water has never been checked.
  • Water Resistant sunscreen isn’t reports the BBC citing a study by Which? found water-resistant sunscreen wasn’t really water resistant at the seaside, the report explains that manufacturers test for water resistance uses tap water, but tested with seawater gives different results. And you might wonder how is that possible surely it passed Britsh Standard technical committee, it didn’t, its a trade association standard.

Golden Sample

A related testing issue is the so-called Golden Sample. If you make and sell an electrical cabling compliant with a certain BS standard, the manufacturer submits samples to a laboratory to obtain the test report. And that test report is used to demonstrate to buyers that the cabling is compliant with that standard.

It is argued that the manufacturer sends their best quality cable for testing, not the typical cabling from the production line. And typically there is no requirement for expensive periodic re-testing, so that test golden test report might be 10 years old and might not reflect the current production. 

Shortcuts

To me, these examples mean that society doth trust too much or perhaps it’s just me. I guessed those firms producing drinks and skin products had followed a list of rigorous standards, whether ISO or British Standard variety, before a bottle left the factory or sunscreen hit the shelf. Now that illusion is truly quashed, I wonder what other products escape testing because no “Standard” exists. As designers become more innovative who will be checking? We should all be more careful.