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Air Quality Planning and Standards

Ambient Air Monitoring QA Program

[ The Mission | The Team | The Work | The Regulations | The Ambient Air Program]

The OAQPS Ambient Air QA Team Mission

The Ambient Air Monitoring Quality Assurance Team is dedicated to ensuring that environmental data operations are of a quality that meets the requirements for informed decision making. We remain committed to providing the EPA, State, Local, Tribal agencies, the academic community and industry the information and expertise to ensure decisions are made to protect the public and the environment. We recognize that this will be accomplished through effective communication and cooperation with monitoring organizations and by implementing and supporting training, development of guidance documents, performance evaluations and data quality assessments with the ulitmate goal of providing data of acceptable quality.

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The Team

The Ambient Air Monitoring QA Team was developed with the goal of evaluating, and improving the quality of data for the Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Program. The Team lead is Dennis Mikel. Various QA tasks are the responsibility of the Ambient Air QA Team members, who are: Louise Camalier, Dennis Crumpler, Mark Shanis, and Candace Sorrell.

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The Work

The QA Team is responsible for developing the overall structure of the quality systems of the Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Networks. A quality system is defined as a structured and documented management system describing the policies, objectives, principles, organizational authority, responsibilities, and implementation plan of an organization for ensuring quality in its work processes, products, and services. The quality system provides the framework for planning, implementing, assessing, and reporting worked performed by the organization and for carrying out required quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC). Since State, Local and Tribal monitoring organizations are responsible for collecting the data for the ambient air monitoring programs, they are responsible for developing and implementing an approved quality system. The primary requirements or elements for the Ambient Air Monitoring Program quality system are described in 40 CFR Part 58 Appendix A and in guidance format in the QA Handbook for Air Pollution Measurement System Volume II. The Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Networks and their associated QA coordinators include:

Note: Clicking on the following titles will lead you to areas on the Ambient Air Monitoring Technical Information (AMTIC) website.

The Ambient Air Criteria Pollutant Network (NCore) - QA Coordinator: Dennis Mikel

PM2.5 Speciation Trends Network (STN) - QA Coordinator: Dennis Crumpler

National Toxics Trends Sites Network (NATTS) - QA Coordinator: Dennis Mikel

Photochemical Assessment Monitoring Stations Network (PAMS) - QA Coordinator--Mark Shanis

The Ambient Air QA Team supports these programs by providing or developing the following QA tools:

Guidance Documents

The National Performance Evaluation Program

Data Quality Assessments and Reports

Ambient Air Quality Assurance Training

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Guidance Documents

Over the years, OAQPS has produced a number of guidance documents that serve to assist monitoring organizations develop their quality systems. These documents include guidance for the:
  • Development of quality management plans and quality assurance project plans.
  • Development or use of data quality objectives.
  • Development of sampling and analytical methods.
  • Development of data validation techniques.

The guidance documents for each monitoring program can be found on AMTIC

The National Performance Evaluation Program

A critical element in any quality assurance program is the process of independent assessment. Independent assessment provides for a level of objectivity and consistency in how data quality is collected (consistent data entry and storage) evaluated, assessed, and reported. As the Federal organization responsible for the implementation and oversight of the Ambient Air Monitoring Program, OAQPS, in partnership with the eEPA Regions and the National Environmental Research Laboratory (NERL), have always provided the function of independent assessment that included: site characterization and network reviews, technical systems audits and performance evaluations. Performance evaluations (PE) are a type of audit in which the quantitative data generated in a measurement system are obtained independently and compared with routinely obtained data to evaluate the proficiency of an analyst or laboratory. A number of performance evaluation programs have been implemented by EPA including:

PM2.5 Performance Evaluation Program(PEP)

Coordinator: Dennis Crumpler

This program has been operating since CY 1999 using the ESAT contractors to collocate FRM PM2.5 instruments at 25% of a primary quality assurance organization sites. In addition, during PM2.5 audits, EPA will audit speciation monitors at both Speciation Trends sites as well as supplemental sites.

National Performance Audit Program(NPAP)

Coordinator: Mark Shanis

This program, initially a mailable audit program, has been operating since 1970. It is currently being retooled into a through-the-probe audit system implemented by EPA Regional personnel and/or ESAT personnel currently implementing the PEP. OAQPS has expended internal capital for the outfitting of five trailers and one vehicle. BY FY05, the PEP and NPAP programs will be combined into a single program. In addition, in FY05 OAQPS will start evaluating the need for through-the-probe auditing in the National Toxics Trends Program (NATTAS) and start outfitting the NPEP mobile laboratories for this activity in FY06.

NATTS Proficiency Tests Samples

Coordinator: Candace Sorrell

A proficiency test is a type of assessment in which a sample, the composition of which is unknown to the analyst, is provided to test whether the analyst/laboratory can produce analytical results within the specified acceptance criteria. OAQPS will contract the development and distribution of audit samples quarterly to the laboratories analyzing the National Toxics Trends Network Sites (NATTS) samples.

Certification Programs--Certification programs provide some independent testing of products and or instrumentation and are used to provide a sense of quality and comparability.

Standard Reference Photometer Program (SRP)

Coordinator: Mark Shanis

The Standard Reference Photometer which is used to certify SLT monitoring organizations ozone primary and transfer standards will continue to be implemented through the Office of Radiation and Indoor Air (ORIA).

NAATS Gas Cylinder Certifications

Coordinator: Dennis Mikel

Currently, the Office of Radiation and Indoor Air (ORIA) performs gas cylinder certifications for the PAMS program. ORIA will perform a similar service for certifying calibration standards for laboratories participating in the NATTS. Details on these audits can be found in the NATTS Strategy document.

Data Quality Assessments and Reports

Data quality assessments and reports provide an evaluation of quality assurance information to determine whether data quality objectives or measurements quality objectives are being attained.

Criteria Pollutant Precision and Bias Data Assessment

Coordinator: Louise Camalier

The Code of Federal Regulations (40 CFR Part 58 Appendix A) requires that measures of data quality be aggregated and reported by primary quality assurance. Each primary quality assurance organization shall be defined such that precision or bias/accuracy among all stations in the organization can be expected to be reasonably homogenous, based on common factors such as: (1) operation by a common team of field operators; (2) use of a common QAPP or standard operating procedure; (3) common calibration facilities and standards; (4) oversight by a common quality assurance organization; and (5) support by a common laboratory or headquarters.

Precision, can be defined as "a measure of mutual agreement among individual measurements of the same property." Primary quality assurance organization prevision is the average repeatability of all the instruments of the organization during the calendar quarter. A given precision check may be considered as representative of an hourly average value that would have been obtained from the instrument if the air pollution concentration remained at the same level as that for the precision check. Because the lack of precision from hour to hour is generally proportional to concentration, it may be further assumed, without much error, that the same percentage variation exists at other concentration levels, except for very low or very high concentrations.

Bias is defined as the systematic or presistent distortion of a measurement process which causes errors in one direction.

Accuracy, can be defined as the degree of agreement between an observed value and an accepted reference value. Accuracy includes a combination of random error (precision) and systematic error (bias) and the term is used when these two types of errors can't be separated.

Although the ultimate truth cannot be known, values determined by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) or other nationally recognized measurement standards body are accepted as the closest to the truth. Bias/accuracy measurements are made by challenging the monitors with independent audits (materials or devices) having traceability as directly as possible to NIST standards.

The precision and accuracy checks conducted by primary quality assurance organizations are one component of a quality assurance program. At the local level, the precision and accuracy data enable reporting organizations to identify aspects of their quality assurance programs that may need strengthening. They also enable the EPA to determine ways in which the quality of ambient data can be improved, such as additional research on measurement procedures, increased quality control for certain types of measurements, or technical assistance to areas of the country needing improved quality control.

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Ambient Air Quality Assurance Training

Coordinator: Dennis Mikel

Many training courses are available through various organizations of EPA and outside organizations. The following table provides a suggested sequence of core QA-related ambient air monitoring courses for OAQPS ambient air monitoring staff. The suggested course sequences assume little or no experience in QA/QC or air monitoring. Persons having experience in the subject matter described in the courses would select courses according to appropriate experience. Sources for these courses include the OAQPS Air Pollution Training Institute (APTI) and the EPA Quality Staff Assurance Division (QS).

Suggested Sequence of Core QA-Related Ambient Air Monitoring Courses for Ambient Air Monitoring Personnel

# Course Title (SI = self instructional) Source
1 Air Pollution Control Orientation Course (Revised), SI:422 APTI
2 Principles and Practices of Air Pollution Control, 452 APTI
3 Orientation to Quality Assurance Management QS
4 Introduction to Ambient Air Monitoring (Under Revision), SI:434 APTI
5 General Quality Assurance Considerations for Ambient Air Monitoring (Under Revision), SI:471 APTI
6 Quality Assurance for Air Pollution Measurement Systems (Under Revision), 470 APTI
7 Data Quality Objectives Workshop QS
8 Quality Assurance Project Plan QS
9 Atmospheric Sampling (Under Revision), 435 APTI
10 Analytical Methods for Air Quality Standards, 464 APTI
11 Chain-of-Custody Procedures for Samples and Data, SI:443 APTI

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Louise Camalier

Coordination Activities:
  • DQO Development
  • Data Quality Assessments
  • QA/AQS Testing
Address: Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, Mail Code D205-02, Research Triangle Park, NC 27711 Phone-919-541-0200 Fax-919-541-0516 Internet- camalier.louise@epamail.epa.gov

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Dennis Crumpler

Coordination Activities:
  • Speciation/IMPROVE QA Lead
  • Program Oversight
  • Lab QA
  • Special Studies
  • PM2.5Performance Evaluation Program Lead
Address: Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, Mail Code D205-02, Research Triangle Park, NC 27711 Phone-919-541-0871 Fax-919-541-4393 Internet- crumpler.dennis@epamail.epa.gov

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Dennis Mikel

Coordination Activities:
  • QA Team Oversight
  • CFR Revisions
  • DQO Development: Criteria, PMc, and Trace Gas
  • Quality System Improvements through QA Strategy Work Group
  • Development of Ambient Air QA Manager Training Curricula
  • Toxics Monitoring QA Lead Program Oversight
  • QMP/QAPP Revision TAD Revision Field/Lab Audits Oversight Proficiency Test Oversight
  • QA Report Oversight
  • Trace Gas Method Development and QA
  • Speciation/IMPROVE Field Audit
  • Meteorological Monitoring
Address: Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, Mail Code D205-02, Research Triangle Park, NC 27711 Phone-919-541-5511 Fax-919-541-0516 Internet- mikel.dennisk@epamail.epa.gov

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Candace Sorrell

Coordination Activities:
  • NATTS Proficiency Test Program and Technical Systems Audit Program

Address: Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, Mail Code D205-02,Research Triangle Park, NC 27711 Phone-919-541-1064 Fax-919-541-0516 Internet- sorrell.candace@epamail.epa.gov

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Mark Shanis

Coordination Activities:
  • National Performance Evaluation Program Oversight and Implementation
  • Standard Reference Photometer Oversight

Address: Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, Mail Code D205-02, Research Triangle Park, NC 27711 Phone-919-541-1323 Fax-919-541-0516 Internet- shanis.mark@epamail.epa.gov

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Regulations affecting the Ambient Air Monitoring Program are documented in the Code of Federal Regulation (CFR) which is a codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the Executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government. The CFR is divided into titles (broad areas) chapters (agencies) and parts (regulatory areas).The regulations for the Ambient Air Monitoring Program is incorporated into three major parts of the Code of Federal Regulations:
  • 40 CFR Part 50 - National Primary and Secondary Ambient Air Quality Standards
  • 40 CFR Part 53 - Ambient Air Monitoring Reference and Equivalency Methods
  • 40 CFR Part 58 - Ambient Air Quality Surveillance

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