Air Monitoring and Reporting: Quality Assurance Duties and Responsibilities

Learn about the technicalities of air monitoring and reporting.  This summary of the detailed guide will help professionals and newcomers ensure their data is accurate and reliable.  Here's how to handle your quality assurance duties and responsibilities for air monitoring, enhance your expertise, and achieve excellence.

This webpage covers the second half of Chapter 5 of the Alberta Air Monitoring Directive (AMD).  The first part is covered on the Ensuring Data Quality page.

Section 6 - Resources for Quality Assurance Duties and Responsibilities

The person in charge should make sure everything is in place to set up and maintain the Quality System, and to monitor, report, and maintain it.   People, money, and technology are all resources.   Basically, they have to make sure everything they need is there.

6.1 People
"Personnel" means anyone involved in monitoring, maintenance, or reporting, whether they're employees or volunteers.   In terms of personnel, the person in charge has several responsibilities:

Make a list of everyone involved.  Define and document their roles and responsibilities in implementing the Quality System and doing air monitoring, reporting, and maintenance.

Provide appropriate training and supervise employees during the training process to make sure they're qualified.  Make sure staff training is up-to-date and effective.

The person in charge should define and document the specific competencies required for different quality assurance duties and responsibilities, based on certification, education, training, and experience.  Also, they should explain the importance of adhering to the AMD and the Quality System, their roles and responsibilities, and the consequences if they don't.

Keeping a watch on the environmentKeep it clean

It's also important to keep records about certifications, competencies, qualifications, training, skills, and experience.  It's important that employees are trained and qualified for their jobs.  Contractors' qualifications and records must also be checked if they're involved.  Air monitoring and reporting should be done by well-trained and competent people.

6.2 Contractors
Several rules apply when someone hires a contractor to do air monitoring, reporting, and maintenance:

- Ultimately, the person responsible is responsible for all air monitoring, analysis, reporting, and maintenance done by the contractor.

- It's the person's responsibility to make sure the contractor's work complies with both the AMD and their quality system.

- Monitoring activities might involve reviewing the contractor's quality assurance inspection and audit reports, inspecting the contractor's work during monitoring, or getting status reports about compliance.

- Specific procedures vary, and the person responsible picks the most appropriate method.

- Contractor activities aren't directly enforceable under the AMD, but they can be enforced through a contract or service agreement.

- All contractors hired to do these things on behalf of the person responsible should keep records of their qualifications and work.

- The person in charge must ensure that the work aligns with the necessary standards and requirements when a contractor is involved.

6.3 Purchasing services and supplies
The person responsible for air monitoring and reporting has to follow specific rules when buying services and supplies:

- These services and supplies must be selected, implemented, and maintained.

- Procedures can include maintaining a list of approved vendors or getting approval before buying.

- Also, the person responsible should have procedures so that any supplies, reagents, or materials purchased that could affect air monitoring meet the specifications or requirements outlined in the monitoring and analysis methods for the different monitoring processes.

To put it simply, they need to make sure the services and materials needed for air monitoring are carefully chosen and purchased.

6.4 Equipment
When handling air monitoring equipment, the person responsible has to follow some quality assurance duties and responsibilities:

- Air monitoring equipment and software must be identified, operated, maintained, and calibrated according to documented procedures.

- The equipment should be located in places that meet or exceed the operational requirements for that type of environmental monitoring.

- For accurate and consistent air monitoring results, they must follow guidelines (as per QS 9-B).

- Protect the monitoring equipment and software from tampering or adjustments that could mess it up.

- The equipment or software should not be used until it's fixed and shown to work correctly through calibration or testing.

- It's the responsible person's responsibility to validate equipment or software if it's changed beyond its original use.

These rules make sure that all air monitoring equipment and software are used correctly, maintained in good condition, and that any changes or modifications are thoroughly tested to keep the data accurate and reliable.

Section 7 - Methods for monitoring air

Accuracy and reliability are key when it comes to air monitoring.  There are quality assurance duties and responsibilities in place to make sure this happens.  Here are some guidelines for air monitoring:

Documentation: The person responsible for air monitoring must document all the methods and procedures they use.  Maintaining consistency and transparency in the monitoring process is crucial.

Much air to monitorPollutants you can measure?

There's a lot of information in this document, including descriptions, references to the source of the method, what it applies to (like gases, liquids, or solids), detection limits, scope and application, definitions, interferences, equipment and supplies to use, and so on.

The person responsible shouldn't deviate from the air monitoring methods outlined in the regulations unless they've got a good reason.  Whenever they need to deviate for a valid technical reason, they must document why, justify the change, validate the new method, and get the Director's approval.

Picking Reliable Methods: Pick monitoring methods that have been published in national or international standards, reputable technical sources, scientific texts, or journals, or are recommended by equipment manufacturers.  You can trust these sources.

Any non-standard methods (methods not in established standards) must be validated.  Comparing results from a non-standard method and a standard method proves they're comparable.

Validation Records: The person responsible for validation should keep records of the validation procedure and the results.

The guidelines make sure air monitoring is consistent, accurate, and follows established standards.  When a deviation from the standard methods is needed, they allow some flexibility, but it must be well documented and authorized.  To provide reliable data that can be trusted for a variety of reasons, like environmental protection and public health.

Section 8 - Calibration

Air monitoring calibration is like tuning a musical instrument.  What you need to know:

Procedures for calibrating air monitoring equipment must be documented and followed by the person in charge.  It makes sure the equipment is accurate and reliable.

Calibration Requirements: If the air monitoring method has calibration requirements, follow them.  You've got to follow the rules.

Correction factors: Sometimes calibration results come with correction factors.  They're used to adjust the monitoring equipment.  They should have procedures for using these correction factors and updating calibration and data records.

Intermediate calibration checks: To keep your equipment accurate, there should be procedures for doing intermediate calibration checks.  These are quick tests to make sure the equipment works.  It's a sign that maintenance may be needed, but no major adjustments are made at this point.

These quality assurance duties and responsibilities make sure air monitoring equipment works right and produces accurate data.  The Calibration Chapter of the AMD (Chapter 7) has all the details.

Section 9 - Let's talk about air sampling

It's like taking a little bit of something to understand the whole.  What you need to know:

Plans and Procedures for Sampling: When collecting air samples, the person in charge needs to create and follow documented plans and procedures.  Both routine monitoring and special studies need this.

When they collect samples, they have to record things like the method they used, the equipment they used, the weather conditions, where they took the samples, and any statistics.

KaizenThere might be a way to fix this

Handling samples carefully is crucial to preserving their quality, traceability, and identity.  We don't want messed up samples!

There are specific rules for accepting and rejecting samples based on the equipment and methods.  You should follow the manufacturer's instructions and AMD's guidelines.

Checking and documenting: The person in charge should check the sample acceptance procedures regularly.  They might need to tweak them if not.

All samples should be sent to a reputable lab that follows the Laboratory Data Quality Assurance Policy, unless the Director says otherwise.

As a result, air samples are collected and handled correctly, and the data generated from these samples is reliable.

Section 10 - How to make things better: Evaluation and Improvement.

Regular Evaluation: Make sure the person in charge has a documented process for checking how well the Quality System is working and whether it's still relevant.

Keep Record of Results: They should keep track of what they find.

They should keep improving their Quality System based on what they learn from these evaluations.  Things like audits, records analysis, and corrective actions can help them improve.

It's all about keeping an eye on their systems, figuring out what's working and what's not, and then improving them.  You'll get the best results that way!

Guidance for calculating uncertainty of measurement is supplied in the Appendix.

Here, confidence intervals are used to estimate a range of values within which a population parameter, like a mean or proportion, might fall.  You can use it to express your estimate's uncertainty.

How it works:

You collect a sample from a bigger population.  If you measure the heights of 100 people, you can estimate the average height.

An estimation is when you calculate a statistic from your sample data (like the sample mean).  You find the average height of 100 people in our height example.

The confidence level is usually expressed as a percentage (e.g., 95% or 99%).  You can use this percentage to tell how confident you are that your parameter (average height) falls within the range.

Confidence Interval Calculation: You calculate a range of values (the confidence interval) around your sample statistic.  Your calculations might tell you the average height is 170 cm, with a 95% confidence interval of 165 cm to 175 cm.

Based on my sample, I'm 95% sure the true average height of the population is between 165 cm and 175 cm.

You can think of a confidence interval as a margin of error around your estimate.  Wider the interval, the less precise your estimate, but the more confident you are in capturing the true population parameter.  Conversely, a narrower interval means a more precise estimate, but lower confidence.  In statistics, it's a way to balance precision and certainty.

Uncertainty in Measurements: Imagine you're trying to figure out how accurate your measurements are.  The more uncertain they are, the wider the range of possible values.  You calculate a range (confidence interval) where you're pretty sure the true value lies.

Calculating uncertainty: You collect a bunch of measurements, usually around 6.  Using these, you calculate the average (mean) and how much they differ from it (standard deviation).

You want to be 95% sure your true value falls within this range.  You use a formula with a "t-value" of 2.571 for 95% confidence (you'd use a different value for different confidence levels or sample sizes).

Let's say you have 6 measurements, and the average is 0.82, and the standard deviation is 0.22.  The measurement uncertainty would be 0.82 + 0.23.  That means you're 95% sure it's between 0.59 and 1.05

The more measurements you take (larger sample size), the more precise your uncertainty estimation is.

It's all about knowing how sure you can be about your measurements.  You can have more confidence in your data if you have a bigger sample and a tighter range (less uncertainty).  Confidence comes from understanding the quality assurance duties and responsibilities that apply and adhering to them

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