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Part 1 - Types of Monitoring. Electronic Tools Side Event UNECE Aarhus Convention 1 st Meeting of the Parties Lucca, Italy October 21-23, 2002. Frances Stanley-Jones International Campaign for Responsible Technology GIS Research Group. Why monitor?.

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Part 1 types of monitoring l.jpg

Part 1 - Types of Monitoring

Electronic Tools Side Event UNECE Aarhus Convention

1st Meeting of the Parties Lucca, Italy

October 21-23, 2002

Frances Stanley-Jones

International Campaign for Responsible Technology

GIS Research Group

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Why monitor?

  • Community-based monitoring programs are a powerful tool to bring a community together.

  • To gather information about an environmental problem or injustice to convince decision-makers to do something about it.

  • To protect the health and well being of communities and their environment.

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Monitoring a “source”

Chemical releases

Chemicals in products

Chemicals in food

Hazardous incident

Monitoring an “effect”

Environmental concentrations

Chemicals in food

Biological effects

Human health effects

Ecological effects

We monitor a source or an effect

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Chemical or pollutant releases


  • Direct measurement of chemicals or pollutants in the environment

    • includes direct releases or emissions

    • includes environmental concentrations

    • releases are not the same as environmental concentrations

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Chemical or pollutant releases

  • Advantages:

    • powerful and convincing direct measure of contamination

    • useful for modeling

    • Easy to understand and communicate

  • Disadvantages:

    • often difficult and/or costly

    • sometime have to estimate the release

    • Does not give information about effects

  • Examples:

    • measuring concentration in air, water, soil

    • tons of pesticides sold (is a surrogate for usage)

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Chemical or pollutant releases

  • Case Study: Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition shellfish program


  • Measure concentration of mercury and PCBs in shellfish deployed in contaminated streams streams.

    • School kids deployed and collected shellfish.

    • Kids learn about pollution and do something about it.

    • Shellfish accumulate these pollutants.

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Chemical or pollutant releases

  • Case Study: Bucket Brigade in South Africa and Swaziland elsewhere.


  • Use simple capture device (special bucket) to sample the air and detect air toxins.

    • Very effective way of measuring air quality in neighborhoods or near pollution sources

    • Great for community participation.

    • Buckets built by participants.

    • Bucket cost ~ $150, lab analysis in US is $450 (is analysis available everywhere?).

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Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition Eco-Maps Series

Schools, hospitals and parks shown in relation to chemical sites...

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Ecological/Biological Effects

  • Definition:

    • Measurement of environmental conditions and their effects on organisms or ecosystems.

  • Advantages:

    • directly measures an impact of contaminants in the environment

  • Disadvantages:

    • Does not, by itself, tell the cause.

    • Requires some expertise

  • Examples:

    • measuring failed to hatch bird eggs

    • Along with chemical concentrations in egg

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Ecological/Biological Effects

  • Case Study: Measuring benthic macroinvertebrates in a stream to assess stream condition. Benthic organisms are those that live on the bottom of lakes, rivers, streams, ponds and wetlands.


  • Benthic organisms are good indicators because

    • They are abundant, do not move fast, and are localized due to their restricted mobility and habitat preferences.

    • They are continuously subjected to the full rigor of the local environment.

    • They show range of tolerances to various degrees and types of pollution

    • They integrate the effects of all pollutants and environmental conditions over time.

    • They are collected with relatively inexpensive and easy-to-use equipment.

    • They are readily identified by community members to the order/family level which is useful for interpretation of environmental conditions.

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Human Health/Body Burden

Lead to human exposure and possible disease

Toxins from industry, products, and food

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Body Burden Monitoring

  • Measurement of human health or the measurement of chemicals or pollutants in the human organism.

  • Body Burden refers to naturally occurring or man-made chemicals measured in an individual that serve no useful health or nutritional purposes, and that may be harmful to human health.

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Human Health/Body Burden

  • Advantages:

    • Direct measurement of cumulative exposure

    • Very powerful evidence for use in campaigns

  • Disadvantages:

    • Difficult to interpret meaning of results

    • Difficult to link to disease (lack of toxicology data)

  • Examples:

    • Measuring contaminants in blood, hair, urine

    • Chemicals can accumulate in body and can often be measured.

  • Case Study:


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Hazardous Incidents/Emergencies

  • Definition:

    • An acutely hazardous incident poses an immediate threat to human or ecological health.

  • Advantages:

    • Direct and powerful evidence of a threat to human health and well-being.

  • Disadvantages:

    • Could be dangerous or difficult (timing) to measure.

    • What do we measure? And how?

    • What is the impact on health?

  • Examples:

    • Chemical fire, explosion, chemical spill

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Chemicals in food/products

  • Definition:

    • Investigations into known or suspected toxic chemical substances contained in commercial products or of hazards associated with the use of commercial products.

  • Advantages:

    • Can be helpful in preventing exposure

    • Useful information for campaigns against certain products

  • Disadvantages:

    • difficult to interpret results

    • Need to combine with exposure information

  • Examples:

    • Pesticide residues in food, lead in paint

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Chemicals in food/products

  • Case Study: Detecting Pesticide Residues in Food

    • Texas Dept. and United States Dept. of Agriculture


  • Findings:

    • residues in violation were found in 63 samples.

    • Of 63 violative samples, 10 exceeded the tolerance level and the other 53 had residues where no tolerance was established.

    • Residues of 49 different pesticides were detected in approximately 60 percent of all samples.

    • Many samples contained multiple residues, with as many as eight found in one sample.

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Regulatory performance/watchdog

  • Definition:

    • The monitoring of the performance of organizations both public and private assigned responsibility for a public regulation designed to protect health or the environment.

  • Advantages:

    • This is a way to get those people who are supposed to be protecting us to do their jobs

  • Disadvantages:

    • It may not work because of apathy, corruption, workload, priorities, power of polluters

  • Examples:

    • Publication of agency enforcement statistics

    • Publication of poor regulatory performance

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Share your experiences!

  • What sorts of projects are you doing in these areas?

    • What have been the successes?

    • What were the challenges?

  • Are there other categories of monitoring not mentioned here in this workshop?

  • What additional information or technical resources would be helpful to make your projects more successful?