Air and Rain Pollution Monitoring
The Observatory's air and precipitation pollution monitoring activities are part
of the programme of an extensive European monitoring network, the Environmental
Monitoring and Evaluation Programme (EMEP), set up under the auspices of the
UN ECE (Economic Commission for Europe). About 100 monitoring stations in 24
European countries take part in the programme. The co-ordinating role for the
programme is filled by the EMEP Chemical Co-ordinating Centre at the Norwegian
Institute for Air Research (NILU) in Kjeller, Norway. The Observatory is also
a Background Air Pollution Monitoring (BAPMON) station in the World Meteorological
Organisation's network. Air and rain samples are taken on a daily basis and are
analysed for different pollutants at the Observatory's laboratory and at the
laboratory at Met Éireann's Headquarters in Dublin.
The EMEP programme measures trans-boundary rather than local pollution
as pollutants, when emitted to the atmosphere, can be dispersed and
carried over distances of
thousands of kilometres by winds before deposition and damage occurs. For this
reason it is essential that strict EMEP data quality objectives are met both
for sampling and laboratory quality control so that laboratories in different
countries are mutually able to compare analytical data.
pH Monitoring of Rain Samples
The acidity of rain samples is determined, on a daily basis, at the Observatory,
using an electrochemical sensor.
Air samples are taken on a daily basis to monitor the concentration
of nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The procedure involves placing a reagent,
which is susceptible
to NO2, in a special chemical analysis cabinet in the open air, where a pump
is used to bubble air through it. The volume of air which passes through the
reagent is measured using a gas meter. These samples are taken on a daily basis
and are handled and stored in accordance with strictly defined procedures.
The samples are analysed in batches of about 20.
Radio Activity Monitoring
Air and precipitation samples are collected at the Observatory and
are forwarded to the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII)
The dose rate of gamma radiation is continuously monitored and recorded at
the Observatory using an Eberline ERM-2 monitor, and the values are reported
hour with the regular synoptic weather report. A procedure is also in place
to report high levels if they occur between the hourly reports.
Rain samples are collected in a dedicated collector and are sent on
a monthly basis to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
in Vienna for tritium