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Environmental Monitoring

By: Tabitha Mishra
| Last updated: September 8, 2022

What Does Environmental Monitoring Mean?

Environmental monitoring is a system for assessing environmental conditions in a specified location in order to control the risk of pollution, assess the environmental impact of an organization's activities, or study environmental trends.

Safeopedia Explains Environmental Monitoring

Environmental monitoring involves the analysis of air, soil, and water samples for chemicals, such as fertilizer and pesticide residue.

Air monitors measure air quality and airborne pollution levels. They may also track temperature, humidity, emissions, and other variables.

Soil monitoring requires the collection of soil samples to be analyzed and tested in a laboratory setting. Soil quality can also be monitored using remote sensors, electromagnets, and geographic information systems (GISs) (GIS) for measuring salinity.

Water monitoring may be done using sensors to monitor temperature, radioactivity, and chemical composition. Sampling is used to measure biological and chemical parameters or for microbiological testing.

Assessing Environmental Exposure

Monitoring environmental conditions provides data on average and peak concentrations obstained at the point of discharge. However, chemicals may undergo transformations by the time they are collected and analyzed. This can leave organizations with an incomplete picture of chemical levels in the environment.

To ensure greater accuracy, monitoring procedures should be regularly audited to veriify the integrity of its various components, including:

  • Sample collection methods
  • Transportation and storage of samples
  • Laboratory conditions and equipment used for analyzing samples
  • Quality of the data collected
  • Reporting procedures to identify potential issues in the monitoring process

Environmental Monitoring Programs

The Clean Air Markets Division (CAMD) of the Environmental protection Agency (EPA) runs two long-term environmental monitoring programs:

  • The Clean Air Status and Trends Network (CASTNET), a national monitoring program to assess trends in the concentration of pollutants, atmospheric deposition, and ecological effects due to changes in air pollutant emissions
  • The Long-Term Monitoring (LTM) Program, which tracks changes in the chemistry of surface water in response to changing air emissions and acid deposition

The CAMD also contributes to a complementary long-term program by the National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP). These programs have collectively provided data for over 30 years to evaluate air quality changes, atmospheric deposition, and the quality of water in lakes and streams.


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