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Quality Assurance

All state ambient air monitoring networks are required by federal regulations (40 CFR Part 58) to follow uniform criteria on network design, siting, quality assurance, monitoring methods, and data reporting. This ensures that the nation’s air monitoring data are consistent, scientifically defensible, and comparable. The Quality Assurance Section within IDEM’s Air Monitoring Branch develops and implements Indiana’s ambient air monitoring quality assurance (QA) program to ensure the validity and quality of the data collected. IDEM adheres to quality control procedures in its daily sampling and analysis methodologies and U.S. EPA periodically evaluates the data to ensure Indiana’s data quality.

Quality Assurance Project Plans (QAPPs)

Indiana’s ambient air monitoring QA program is detailed in IDEM quality assurance project plans (QAPPs). These plans explain all phases of ambient air sampling and data analysis and comply with federal regulations (40 CFR Part 58, Appendices A, C, D, and E) and U.S. EPA guidance documents. The phases include site evaluation and selection; monitoring equipment accuracy, precision, and selection; calibration, verification, and audit equipment and procedures; sampling procedures; lab analysis; data verification and validation; chain of custody; data reporting; precision and accuracy reporting; and meteorological criteria. The QAPPs consist of:

Staff Roles and Responsibilities

The Quality Assurance Section ensures air monitoring data operations are covered by appropriate QA planning documentation, including QAPPs and data quality objectives. In addition to creating and reviewing QAPPs, the staff develop, revise, and interpret QA standard operating procedures (SOPs), technical SOPs, methods, and data quality objectives that provide guidance in achieving consistent and accurate quality assurance of air monitoring data operations. The staff ensure that all personnel involved in such operations have access to any training or QA information needed to be knowledgeable in QA requirements, protocols, and technology of that activity.

QA staff play an important role in the collection, verification, validation, data analysis, assessment, planning, and reporting of air monitoring data. They assist industry owners and operators whose air quality permits require them to operate an air monitoring network, and consultants, in developing ambient air monitoring QA documentation. They also answer air monitoring technical questions and perform these additional responsibilities:

  • QA audits on all monitoring instrumentation
  • QA checks on monitoring data and filter weights that determine particulate matter concentrations
  • QA checks on data and QA audits on field instrumentation
  • Pre- and post-sampling filter reweighs to ensure that toxics staff meet specific requirements for the weighing of particulate filters.
  • Assist with independent Performance Evaluation Program (PEP) and National Performance Audit Program (NPAP) audits, as required by the U.S. EPA
  • Technical systems audits that assess the monitoring program’s compliance with regulations governing the collection, analysis, validation, and reporting of ambient air quality data
  • Data quality assessments for precision and accuracy, and reporting to U.S. EPA
  • Annual QA network evaluation to determine compliance with federal and state air pollution regulations, the quality of the monitoring program, and the accuracy and reliability of collected data
  • Production of QA information summaries throughout the monitoring season, including:
    • Quarterly coefficient of variation (% CV) calculations for PM2.5, PM10 and Pb that indicate how well a method or instrument gives the same result when a single sample is tested repeatedly
    • Quarterly precision and accuracy evaluation report
    • Site evaluations

The QA staff maintain and operate a Quality Assurance Laboratory for conducting calibrations, certifications, and verifications. Duties include:

  • Maintaining or replacing monitoring and calibration equipment
  • Generating certification paperwork and letters, and filing results
  • Maintaining National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) traceability so all calibration and reference standards used in the Indiana air monitoring network have an unbroken chain of calibrations traceable to NIST

Additional details about IDEM’s ambient air monitoring QA program and QAPPs are available in Indiana’s ambient air monitoring network plan.