Many options are available for the type of air quality information which can be collected, and the cost of air quality monitoring systems varies greatly. Only with a thorough understanding of the decisions which must be made based on the information received from the air quality monitoring system can an environmental engineer make an appropriate selection.
Regardless of the instruments used to measure air quality, the data are only as good as they are representative of the sampling site selected.
The simplest air quality monitors are static sensors that are exposed for a given length of time and are later analyzed in the laboratory. In some cases, these devices provide all the required information. More commonly, a system of automatic instruments measuring several different air quality parameters is used. When more than a few instruments are used, the signals from these instruments can be retained on magnetic tape rather than on recorder charts.
The most common errors in the design of air quality monitoring systems are poor site location and the acquisition of more data than necessary for the purpose of the installation.
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