When we turn on the tap, we know that the water coming out should be of a consistently high quality. And we can choose – if we prefer – to drink bottled water instead.
This is not so with the air that we breathe. Unlike the water that we drink, we have no guarantee, and in many cases no information, telling us that the air quality in our towns, cities and even rural areas is of an acceptable and safe quality.
Headline grabbing stories earlier this year about the number of UK deaths hastened by air pollution invariably came as a shock to many people who had not fully understood the danger of modern air pollution. However, governmental and industry organisations alike take air quality very seriously and significant improvements have been made over the past two decades.
Air quality monitoring and emissions monitoring equipment becomes more sophisticated, more precise and more accurate every year. However, this alone is not enough to fully address the complex challenges of air pollution. The specification and integration of different pieces of kit and its ongoing service and maintenance also play a crucial role. And the way in which the data is segmented, disseminated and shared with relevant people and organisations – including the general public – is beginning to receive greater attention.
Bearing this in mind, it seems strange that whilst the quality and performance of equipment itself can be verified by industry certification, such as MCERTs, there is no such requirement for associated services. The organisations which package, install and service environmental monitoring equipment are not subject to any defined standards. That’s why it is vital that environmental managers – whether from Local Authorities or organisations covered by industrial emissions directives – understand what best practice looks like. This enables them to demand the utmost from their suppliers, and to compare different suppliers more objectively.