That “weights and measures” sticker on the gas pump carries a story. The Illinois Department of Agriculture is bragging about its “metrology lab.” That’s the lab that measures the measuring devices that are used to certify the accuracy of not just gas pumps, but scales of all sizes that are used for commercial transactions. The organization which must certify the lab, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, was impressed enough with the Springfield lab that it gave it a two-year certification, instead of just one.
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“Almost everything we buy, from a gallon of gas to a pound of beef, is sold by weight, volume, length, count or measure,” said Bob Flider, director of agriculture, in a statement. “This lab protects consumers and businesses alike from unfair practices by ensuring that the standards used to test weighing and measuring devices are accurate.”
There’s a need to make sure that, for example, a five-gallon can is indeed a five-gallon can. “A little dent can make a difference when you’re only talking six cubic inches out of 1,155 cubic inches,” weights and measures bureau chief Doug Rathbun said in an interview. “Temperatures, dings, (and) paint wearing off, believe it or not, can make a difference” in the cans which are used to measure the accuracy of gas pumps. “We do over 135,000 devices a year,” Rathbun said.