Project Details Guidance for substance-related environmental monitoring strategies regarding soil and surface water

Project No.:
2009-048-1-600
Start Date:
01 January 2010
End Date:
31 August 2015

Objective

1.To provide guidance for the problem-orientated selection, elaboration and performance of substance-related monitoring strategies regarding soil and surface water sampling
2.To provide an overview on available scientifically sound and feasible monitoring strategies for a substance-related environmental monitoring
3.To discuss advantages and shortcomings of different strategies and the need of technical and personal equipment including quality assurance

Description

In environmental polices a substance-related monitoring is an essential tool for a risk assessment. The soundness of policy decisions including risk management measurers are therefore directly related to the reliability of the environmental monitoring programs. In addition, monitoring programs are needed for identifying new and less-investigated pollutants of concern in different environmental media.
Scientifically sound and feasible monitoring concepts strongly depend on the aim of the study. The proper definition of questions to be answered is of pivotal importance. Therefore, the project will address different kinds and approaches for a substance-related monitoring for soils and surface water including sediment and in view of an integrated assessment link to modeling.

Keywords are: e.g. investigative or snapshot monitoring, trend monitoring, retrospective monitoring, exposure monitoring, integrated monitoring, probabilistic and non-probabilistic approaches, selection of analytical laboratories, quality assurance

The aim of an investigative monitoring or snapshot monitoring is to get a first impression on the pollution of selected areas or input scenarios (e.g. monitoring of inputs via sewage sludges within a certain region) and to screen for new and less investigated pollutants of environmental concern. This investigative monitoring often does not fulfill the criteria for representativity and systematic selection of sampling sites for sheer pragmatic reasons.
Trend monitoring and compliance monitoring operates with well-selected sampling sites. The aim of this study type is to accurately trace the concentrations over a certain time period, thus allowing detecting seasonal variations, accidental inputs or the effectiveness of measures by authorities.
Storage of samples and repeated sampling at well- selected and carefully documented sites can lead to a retrospective monitoring as performed by environmental specimen banks. In this context, the proper documentation of related meta-data is paramount to explain and interpret the observations on the “time-capsuled” samples.
Sample handling, storage and the analysis of the samples are important steps besides the elaboration of problem-oriented monitoring strategies. The same applies to the selection of the sampling sites as being representative for scenarios to be investigated. These steps may become critical to handle for larger international monitoring programs and thus triggering the quality of the results. Thus, quality assurance becomes an essential task.
In the project different monitoring strategies, their advantages and limitations, practical feasibility and the evidence of the results will be discussed and guidance will be given. Three shortly presented examples will illustrate mayor substance-related environmental monitoring strategies.
To keep the project feasible it is restricted to soil and surface water including sediment. The consideration of further media may follow in a following project.

Progress

May 2010 – project announcement published in Chem. Int. May-June, p. 18

The project objectives were discussed in three face-to-face meeting with a part of the task group members. It was decided to write a guidance to be published in a peer-reviewed journal with a strong environmental science background. After several topics had been identified task group members contributed their parts. The final paper was checked by all participants before submission. As journal Environmental Science Pollution Research (Springer) was selected.

Published outcome:
Substance-related environmental monitoring strategies regarding soil, groundwater and surface water – an overview, Environ Sci Pollut Res (2013) 20, 2810-2827; https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11356-013-1531-2

Abstract – Substance-related monitoring is an essential tool within environmental risk assessment processes. The soundness of policy decisions including risk management measures is often directly related to the reliability of the environmental monitoring programs. In addition, monitoring programs are required for identifying new and less investigated pollutants of concern in different environmental media. Scientifically sound and feasible monitoring concepts strongly depend on the aim of the study. The proper definition of questions to be answered is thus of pivotal importance. Decisions on sample handling, storage and the analysis of the samples are important steps for the elaboration of problem-oriented monitoring strategies. The same applies to the selection of the sampling sites as being representative for scenarios to be investigated. These steps may become critical to handle for larger international monitoring programs and thus trigger the quality of their results. This study based on the work of an IUPAC (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry) task group addresses different kinds and approaches of substance-related monitoring of different compartments of soil, groundwater and surface water, and discusses their advantages and limitations. Further important aspects are the monitoring across policies and the monitoring data management using information systems.

Project completed

Page last updated 31 Aug 2015