Your Ultimate Remediation Air Monitoring Guide: Compliance, Safety, and Project Success
Your Ultimate Remediation Air Monitoring Guide: Compliance, Safety, and Project Success
20 April 2023
23 November 2022
Remediation is a huge part of urban regeneration and growth. Transforming disused brownfield sites into office spaces, retail complexes, and other commercial developments can help breathe new life into a city while affording developers a significant return on investment. If done right.
As any responsible site remediator will tell you, protecting the health and well-being of both workers and the community is key to delivering a successful project. Here, we’ll cover just about everything you might need to know to carry out safe, efficient remediation. From understanding the nuances of respirable vs inhalable air to relevant air quality regulations, real-life case studies, and the solutions best suited to help, think of this page as a living document containing all things remediation. We’ll be regularly updating this page as and when regulations change, giving you the inside knowledge on maintaining best practice in your operations. So, bookmark this page, feel free to refer back to it when needed, and do get in touch if you have any questions!
Time travel and remediation – What’s really at stake?
While the rewards of a successful remediation project can be high, so too are the stakes. If not properly managed, poor air quality caused by remediation can be harmful to everyone involved. On-site workers and the community may be at risk of respiratory illness and a range of both short and long-term maladies. Site remediators can be met with serious fines, lengthy delays, and even have the project shut down completely if unable to effectively manage air quality. Consultants and air quality professionals employed to help manage the relationship between developer and community can experience a loss of reputation if trust is tarnished among both groups due to an unsafe exceedance.
So, what does success look like for developers, communities, and consultants? Below, we’ve illustrated dual timelines – one showing responsible remediation and the other outlining a worst-case scenario.
In the top (or “Successful”) timeline, an air quality monitoring system armed with real-time alerts recognizes that dust levels have risen above safe levels. An alert is instantly sent to the site manager, who enlists the on-site team to set in motion a dust mitigation plan to curb rising dust pollution. Mitigation may involve wetting dry and dusty areas to reduce the spread of airborne particles, checking soil coverings, or in some cases a brief pause in operations to allow dust to settle. The sum effect of a robust dust monitoring plan, combined with real-time air quality monitoring, is a healthy community, minimal disruption to the project, and significant cost savings.
Compare this with the bottom (or “Unsuccessful”) timeline, where rising dust pollution goes undetected. In this scenario, unsafe dust levels may continue to worsen as the community notices a dip in air quality and lodges a complaint with the relevant authority. By the time a regulator is brought on-site to investigate, it is often too late to begin mitigation. Once a breach is confirmed, the regulator may issue costly fines, suspend operations, or in extreme cases shut the project down permanently.
Easy to spot which is the preferable timeline here, right? Once you’ve ended up in the “Unsuccessful” timeline, unless you have access to a time-traveling DeLorean or a Tardis, it’s incredibly difficult to undo the damage. In the next sections, we’ll look at how remediators and air quality consultants maximize their chances of ending up in the “Successful” timeline.
Gathering credible, accurate air quality data
Not all dust is created equal. When monitoring dust levels, it’s important to distinguish between respirable vs inhalable dust. As defined by the World Health Organization, inhalable dust refers to a particle “that can be breathed into the nose or mouth.” Respirable dust is a sub-set of inhalable dust, covering any “fraction of inhaled airborne particles that can penetrate beyond the terminal bronchioles into the gas-exchange region of the lungs.” See this blog for more on what these definitions mean for your dust monitoring operations.
When gathering air quality data to maintain compliance and build trust among the surrounding community, measurements need to be as accurate as possible. We call this “near-reference” data quality, a level of accuracy comparable to those of traditional (and expensive) reference analyzers. Inaccurate air quality data can erode trust and allow an exceedance to go unchecked. We've outlined the necessary steps for achieving near-reference data, including sensor selection, sensor module design, and calibration.
Keeping instruments correctly calibrated is among the most crucial factors in producing credible data. This includes holding a current calibration certificate, an official piece of documentation issued by the manufacturer or an accredited third party that assures all parties of a certain standard or measurement. An up-to-date calibration certificate also doubles as a useful defense against any potential future litigation, showing all reasonable measures have been taken to produce trustworthy data. Learn more about producing defensible data and how we can assist with keeping your calibration certificate up to date via our Aeroqual Hot-swap Service here.
How to achieve regulatory compliance
You’ve committed to achieving regulatory compliance and have a sound dust monitoring plan in place to ensure the health and safety of workers and the community – but what exactly do these regulations entail? To help streamline your compliance efforts, we’ve prepared a series of resources of some of the most relevant pieces of legislation.
For site remediators based in California and throughout the West Coast, Rule 1466 is a must. Established by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), Rule 1466 places prescribed limits on fugitive dust emissions caused by earth-moving activities. In 2021, Rule 1466 underwent a series of amendments, covering things like enhanced monitoring limits and requirements and changes to reporting requirements. We’ve outlined these recent Rule 1466 amendments on our blog and will continue to keep you posted on any further changes. We’ve also prepared resources on the background and origins of Rule 1466, along with a visual guide aiding compliance. As Rule 1466 is often used as a reference for all manner of regulations outside of just California, site remediators from all over should be familiar with its intentions and the standard of measurement required.
In addition to particulates, earth-moving projects have the potential to cause volatile organic compounds (VOCs) trapped in soil and groundwater to be released into our breathable airspace. To remedy this, SCAQMD has established Rule 1166 – Volatile Organic Compound Emissions from Decontamination of Soil. Rule 1166 sets requirements to “control the emission of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from excavating, grading, handling and treating VOC-contaminated soil.” For more detailed information, check out this summary of VOC monitoring on remediation sites.
East Coast-based remediators will want to familiarise themselves with regulation DER-10, enacted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). DER-10 is an extensive document, detailing procedures and monitoring requirements for every stage of the remediation process. Under DER-10, project managers or consultants are obligated to file a Community Air Monitoring Plan (CAMP), requiring “real-time monitoring for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulates at the downwind perimeter of each designated work area when certain activities are in progress at contaminated sites.” From an initial site assessment to in-project work and post-project cleanup, DER-10 provides a comprehensive guide for selecting optimal instrumentation, carrying out monitoring, and reporting on data. We’ve got all the essentials you need to know about regulation DER-10 here.
Selecting an optimal remediation air monitoring solution
With a sound knowledge of regulations and monitoring requirements in place, you’re ready to source an ideal solution for your next project. But how do you know which one is right for you?
For any site remediator or consultant looking to save time and money while ensuring safe and efficient remediation, there’s Aeroqual Site Contribution – our ground-breaking remediation monitoring software tool. Powered by automated calculations and real-time alerts, Aeroqual Site Contribution saves you 30+ minutes a day, while minimizing potential liability and protecting workers and the community from fugitive emissions. Aeroqual Site Contribution empowers you to:
Act swiftly before an exceedance occurs
Never again get blamed for your neighbor’s actions (or inaction)
Accelerate project timelines and limit unnecessary restrictions on operations
Access real-time data from anywhere using the live dashboard
Aeroqual Site Contribution features user-selectable regulations (including SC AQMD Rule 1466 and simplified NY DER-10, with more regulations to follow), allowing you to optimize your reporting in line with regulatory best practice, satisfying regulators and delivering a successful project for customers and the community.
When choosing an appropriate monitoring system to pair with Aeroqual Site Contribution, it’s important to refer back to the regulation in question. For example, in choosing between the Aeroqual Dust Sentry or Dust Sentry Pro, the Dust Sentry is well suited to monitoring and reporting on a single parameter, while the Dust Sentry Pro provides simultaneous measurement of multiple particle fractions. We’ve designed a range of remediation monitoring options to suit just about any purpose, including:
The AQS 1 Remediation Air Quality Monitor – a compact, lightweight monitor suitable for deployment in small networks across a range of outdoor applications (including on-site remediation)
The AQM 65 Ambient Air Monitoring Station – provides continuous real-time measurement of up to 20 different pollutants with near-reference levels of performance traceable back to international standards
Aeroqual Ranger | Dust – the ultimate connected handheld dust monitoring solution, offering the capabilities of a fixed monitor within an ergonomic portable design
Looking for something ultra-portable but with the power of a fixed monitoring system? Want to connect up a series of monitoring systems to form a wider network? Ready to reduce on-site visits via remote monitoring technology? Whatever the goal, we have the solution.
Examples in the field – Aeroqual remediation monitoring solutions in action
Armed with an industry-leading air quality monitoring system and an awareness of all things compliance, you’re almost ready to break ground. But first, it may be useful to look over a few examples of remediation monitoring in action, taking note of any lessons learned that you could apply to your own upcoming project. We’ve helped clients in all corners of the world deliver successful remediation projects, from coast to coast, continent to continent.
The Gowanus Superfund project focused on regenerating contaminated waterways throughout the Gowanus Canal in New York City. The resulting case study details how DER-10 guidelines were managed across a long-running, complex project.
Also in New York, the Long Island Rail Road expansion project combined AQS 1 air quality monitors with Aeroqual Cloud to save time and money, protect surrounding residents, and ensure regulatory compliance during the redevelopment of the nation’s busiest commuter rail line.
The City of Dallas used a public dashboard to build trust and demonstrate how real-time data was used to mitigate fugitive emissions during the removal of an illegal shingle stockpile.
For Modern Geosciences, a respected environmental advisory firm, a network of three Aeroqual AQM 65 Compact Air Quality Stations, “gave us defensible data for multiple pollutants within budget and were easy to deploy onsite.”
Over on the West Coast, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) and TRC Companies, Inc. (a global consulting firm) deployed the Aeroqual Dust Sentry during a reclamation project on the nation’s largest municipal utility.
For SCS Engineers, two Dust Sentry monitors proved more than capable of exceeding all regulatory requirements, minimizing fugitive dust emissions on a SoCal industrial redevelopment project. SCS Engineers Vice President, Ray Huff, remarked – “In the future, we will definitely specify Aeroqual air monitoring technology for our upcoming projects.”
Heading towards the Bay Area, Catellus, a national leader in mixed-use development, set about urbanizing a former naval base into something where locals can live, work, and play. Using Aeroqual Site Contribution and a Dust Sentry PM10 monitor, they were able to achieve compliance, build community trust, and save over $60,000 in undue costs for damage caused by another source.
Air Monitoring at Remediation Sites – What I learned from a visit to Gowanus, NYC
Being a Good Neighbor Requires Real-Time Alerts and Defensible Air-Quality Data
Premium Remediation Monitoring System Protects Communities, Ensures Compliance During SoCal Industrial Redevelopment
Want to know more?
Maintaining healthy air quality is at the core of safe, efficient remediation. With over twenty years at the forefront of air quality monitoring technology, Aeroqual can guarantee we have the perfect solution for any remediation project – ensuring you’re able to maintain compliance, protect community health, and remain firmly in the “Successful” remediation timeline.
If you’re interested in knowing more about air quality regulations, our range of remediation-focused solutions, or any of our case study examples, we’d love to hear from you!
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Protect workers and the community while ensuring regulatory compliance on your next remediation project.