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The work of an Environmental Laboratory Manager ...
16 November 2017

Environmental laboratory manager, Margaret

Met …ireannís Environmental Laboratory processes precipitation and air samples gathered at a number of sites across Ireland. Margaret manages the laboratory which operates under the Global Atmospheric Watch (GAW) program run by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). The main objective of the GAW program is long-term atmospheric monitoring on a global scale. We also report to the European Monitoring and Evaluation Programme (EMEP).

Met …ireann carries out chemical analysis on samples gathered at Valentia Observatory, Mace Head and at a network of EPA† managed sites. Valentia Observatory is Met …ireannís atmospheric monitoring site at Cahirciveen, Co. Kerry. The atmospheric research site at Mace Head is run by National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG)

Precipitation and air samples are collected on a daily basis. Rainfall is collected by a wet-only collector. These collectors only open when the sensor attached to the lid detects moisture. Dry dust deposition is thus excluded from the rainfall samples.† Air samples are collected by using a pump to pull air through a filter. The volume of air passed through the filter is recorded. Each filter is exposed for 24 hours. The majority of the analysis is done by Ion Chromatography. The rainfall and air samples are analysed for Sulphate, Nitrate, Ammonium, Chloride, Sodium, Potassium, Calcium and Magnesium. In addition, pH and Conductivity measurements are recorded for rainfall.

A very important part of the work is protecting the samples from contamination. Most of the components measured are also found on human skin and in the laboratory air so procedures for storing and handling samples are managed to minimise the risk of adding anything to the rainfall samples or the filters, either before or after exposure. It is imperative that anything measured in a rainfall or air sample is a reflection of the atmosphere at the point of collection.

These measurements are used to monitor local air quality and transboundary air movements. They are used for monitoring and modelling in national and international networks.

ICS 3000 Ion Chromatograph in Met …ireann Laboratory


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