Weights and Measures Week Recognized March 1 – 7

DES MOINES – The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship today highlighted the important work of the Department’s Weights and Measures Bureau as part of Weights and Measures week, which runs from March 1-7.

“Our Weights and Measures Bureau inspectors are on the front line of consumer protection, ensuring the accuracy of small devices, like gas pumps and counter scales, as well as large devices, such as truck scales,” said Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “Customers can have confidence that they are getting what they pay for at the pump and in the checkout lane at the grocery store thanks in part to these inspections.”

There are more than 70,000 annually licensed commercial weighing and measuring devices in Iowa, which 10 inspectors check for compliance.  This includes approximately 42,000 gas pump meters and more than 16,000 scales, including 5,600 large truck, livestock, platform and railroad scales, as well as 10,500 small counter scales such as those at grocery stores, farmers markets, and precious metal (gold) buyers.

Weights and measure inspectors also test for fuel quality when they do gas pump inspections. In 2017, 4686 samples were field tested, and of that approximately 40% (1874) were also tested at the Department’s lab in Ankeny.

Inspectors conduct random inspections of package for net contents, price verification (scanner check), compressed natural gas (CNG) dispensers, LP meters and LP cylinders for accuracy and labeling. They also do motor oil label compliance to make sure they are following NIST HB 130 labeling requirements, as well as following the American Petroleum Institute (API) requirements.

Two Department employees have been nominated to serve on committees for the National Conference of Weights and Measures (NCWM). Mike Harrington, the Department’s Fuel Quality Coordinator, is serving as a member of the Fuels and Lubricants Committee and the National Cannabis Work group. Ivan Hankins, the Department’s Weights and Measures Technical Coordinator, serves as the chair of the National Specifications and Tolerances Committee, and has just been appointed to the Board of Directors of NCWM.

The effects of small inaccuracies in transactions can be profound.  If every gas pump in Iowa was out of compliance by just one percent the effect could be a $40 million loss for consumers.  Also, if the large truck scales, which are used for farmers selling grain, were off by one percent, the cost to Iowans could be $140 million.

Weights and Measures Week is celebrated on March 1-7 each year to commemorate John Adams signing the first United States Weights and Measures law on March 2, 1799.  Learn more about the Department’s Weights and Measures Bureau at http://www.iowaagriculture.gov/weightsandmeasures.asp.