MAA 1999

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The first AAMG meeting on ambient air monitoring
Monitoring for the Millennium
15-16 December 1999
At The Scientific Societies Lecture Theatre, London

Report of the meeting by Derrick Porter

This meeting, organised by the Automation and Analytical Management Group of the RSC Analytical Division in co-operation with the Health and Safety Executive sought to provide the scientific community and public authorities with the opportunity to hear and discuss updated information on air pollution and some effective means of monitoring.

These objectives were successfully achieved in a programme of presentations made by sixteen distinguished speakers equally drawn from the UK and mainland Europe. The programme covered the requirements of the EU Ambient Air Directive, potential monitoring strategies and some state of the art solutions to current challenges and problems. The meeting was attended by more than ninety people, a significant number of whom were from overseas, and discussion of the papers flowed freely.

The first day was devoted principally to the assessment of the pollution level problems from an EU-DG XI point of view and the measurement of those levels particularly by local authorities from a DETR perspective, also taking into account the new WHO guidelines for Europe. Atmospheric modelling required for regulatory purposes was covered together with product certification for the monitoring of ambient air. Particular pollutants covered in this session included PAHs and problems with their assessment and reference and also indicative methods appropriate to SO2, NO2, CO and 03.

Day two started with a paper covering some legal issues followed by a discussion of the methods for producing standard atmospheres. The quality of measurements was emphasised and sources of uncertainty in air sampling and analysis outlined together with some relevant simple statistical treatments. The meeting concluded with an afternoon session devoted to considering the all important subject of thermal desorption with a particular emphasis on its potential use into the next millennium. Future applications after sampling by both by pump and passive methods for both personal and ambient air monitoring seem assured. Special studies described included reference and indicative methods for benzene, and the determination of VOCs in Antwerp to relate ambient air exposure to population exposure. It was shown that provided all proper precautions are taken in their use, passive sampling methods are adequate for obtaining indicative measurements at concentration levels below the limit values. Interest was maintained to the end with papers describing two more unusual applications dealing with the measurement of aldehydes and BTX from buses using ethanol as fuel and also the important determination of trace organics in breathing gases used by divers working under saturation conditions.

The importance and effectiveness of urban network projects was well demonstrated in a poster presentation relating to air quality in Sweden. All together this was a very informative, encouraging and stimulating meeting.