Environmental Monitoring at Love Canal - ACS Publications

are conducted every day in hundreds of laboratories throughout the world. Love Canal. Love Canal first came to national attention in the late 1970s, w...
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Environmental Monitoring at Love Canal EPA study suggests need for real-time auditing of analytical data

In large-scale analytical chemistry studies involving hundreds of analytes and thousands of samples, the quality of data being generated should be evaluated on an interactive basis through a computer feedback system, suggests William Budde of the Envi­ ronmental Protection Agency (EPA). This would avoid a problem that is not uncommon in analytical research: A scientist sits down to write a report based on hundreds of man-hours of experimentation, only to find that some of the data are flawed or even to­ tally useless. To make matters worse, the samples may no longer exist, or cost considerations may prevent the repetition of analytical work that should have been done right the first time. Interactive real-time performance evaluation is today more feasible, as laboratory computer power has prolif­ erated and as sophisticated laboratory information management system (LIMS) software has been introduced by a number of vendors (/). LIMS software can be adapted to just this sort of application, assuming the prop­ er procedures and algorithms for eval­ uation of the quality of generated data are available. The idea of implementing real-time quality assurance of analytical data was voiced recently by Budde in a talk he presented on the environmental monitoring of Love Canal. Budde, who is head of the Advanced Instrumenta­ tion Section at EPA's Environmental Monitoring and Support Laboratory in Cincinnati, proposed real-time per­ formance evaluation of analytical data in response to criticism that some of the data generated by contract labora0003-2700/83/0351-943A$01.50/0 © 1983 American Chemical Society

are conducted every day in hundreds of laboratories throughout the world.

# ]£ I I don't mean • P n H r t n a t every contract laboratory will have a dish antenna transmitting GC/MS results to EPA computers via satellite, but I think we could get close to that, and I'm serious. I think we need to go to a modern computerized telecommunications system where data are transmitted at least on

a daily basis. Α ΛΑ William Budde


tories participating in the study were of poor quality. Speaking at the recent 13th Annual Symposium on the Analytical Chemis­ try of Pollutants, held on Jekyll Island, Georgia, May 16-18, Budde re­ ferred specifically to quality control of data from contract laboratories partic­ ipating in large-scale studies, such as EPA's Love Canal monitoring effort. But the idea of interactive evaluation of data quality is equally applicable to smaller-scale analytical studies that

Love Canal Love Canal first came to national attention in the late 1970s, when resi­ dents of the Niagara Falls neighbor­ hood began complaining of health ef­ fects they believed were related to toxic chemical wastes leaking from an adjacent landfill. The Hooker Chemi­ cals and Plastics Corporation had used Love Canal as a chemical dump for a number of years. In 1953, the land was sold to the Niagara Falls School Board. A school and a number of homes were subsequently con­ structed on the site. The goal of EPA's environmental monitoring study, explained Budde, was to determine the degree of con­ tamination of the "declaration area," an area of hundreds of residences and businesses surrounding the "ring 1 " and "ring 2" homes immediately adja­ cent to the Love Canal landfill. EPA and the state of New York had taken steps to prevent the spread of toxic wastes into the declaration area, in­ cluding capping of the landfill and construction of a drainage system and a leachate treatment plant. The envi­ ronmental monitoring study was de­ signed to determine if these measures had effectively contained the pollution and to assess the environmental quali­ ty of the declaration area relative to other industrial cities in the U.S. EPA's approach was a multimedia environmental monitoring program, involving hundreds of analytes and over 6000 samples. The large number of samples and the dozen or so con-


Focus tract laboratories hired to perform the analyses complicated the problem, ac­ cording to Budde, "because we had to maintain some standards of precision, accuracy, and detection limits, not just from one laboratory but from sev­ eral." The contractor laboratories se­ lected had all done well in analyses of performance samples supplied by EPA. Study Conclusions The EPA study concluded that there was a consistent pattern of con­

tamination in the area immediately adjacent to the canal. This was hardly a big surprise: "Everybody knew that was going to be the case," said Budde. The remedial measures taken by EPA and New York State were effective in confining contaminants to the canal area, EPA concluded, and the envi­ ronmental quality of the declaration area was comparable to other cities in the U.S. and control sites in Niagara Falls. There was some contamination of the declaration area attributable to Love Canal, but this was confined to

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