Exploring the Need for Development of a Consensus Standards Development Program for the Accreditation of Emerging Environmental Monitoring Technologies

Oral Presentation

Prepared by S. Mertens1, J. Parr2
1 - Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, 260 W. Seeboth St., Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 53204, United States
2 - The NELAC Institute, PO Box 2439, Weatherford, TX, 76086, United States


Contact Information: smertens@mmsd.com; 414-277-6384


ABSTRACT

The development and use of advanced sensor technologies for environmental monitoring is rapidly evolving. Traditional and nontraditional chemical, biological and physical measurements that once were the sole product of laboratories and/or trained scientists are now widely available through the use of low cost, portable, small and easy to use sensors. Technology is readily available and used in applications as diverse as citizen science, research, education, process control and environmental screening.
The performance and quality of these data are generally uncharacterized. Specifications for measurement quality objectives such as precision, accuracy, reproducibility, are often unavailable and even if they are, data is rarely presented with those so that the data user can answer the basic question “How good is this data?” Without knowing this, data may be used inappropriately. Or, to look at it another way, if the quality of the data was known and documented, the data might have further uses than it currently does.
While there is an international standard for bodies certifying products and services (ISO 17065), this lacks the specificity necessary to address this need for sensor technology for environmental testing.
There are currently internationally recognized standards for the accreditation of environmental testing laboratories and field sampling and measurement organizations. The TNI Standards, with their strong focus on quality systems, help to ensure that accredited laboratories and field sampling measurement organizations that perform environmental measurements are competent to do so. These, however, are not structured in a way that could readily be applied to products.
This presentation will review the gaps that need to be filled to help provide clear and objective information on the quality of new sensor technologies and explore the possibility of developing an accreditation program that could be built to address these.