A comparison of data quality control protocols for atmospheric mercury speciation measurements

Alexandra Steffen, Tina Scherz, Mark Olson, David A Gay, Pierrette Blanchard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Significant advances in the measurement of atmospheric mercury species have been made in the past 10 years yet limited protocols on quality control (QC) and assurance on this data have been published in the literature. Recently, considerable work has been done to develop quality control and assurance programs within North America. Environment Canada and the National Atmospheric Deposition Network (NADP) independently developed programs, RDMQ™ and AMQC, respectively, to QC atmospheric mercury speciation data (including gaseous elemental mercury (GEM), reactive gaseous mercury (RGM) and mercury associated to particles (PHg)). These 2 programs were assessed by the criteria on which the data is QCed and comparability of the final data products. Results show that the criteria used to flag data compare well within the 4 tested sites and that the number of flags for each criterion is generally comparable. The QC programs were applied to 2 distinct data sets and the final QCed data was compared. From a mid-latitude site, the final data sets compare very well and showed there to be a 0.3, 8.6 and 15% difference in the mean GEM, RGM and PHg concentrations post QC of each program. It is recommended that either the RDMQ or the AMQC programs be employed for a typical mid-latitude site. When the QC programs were applied to highly variable data, the data do not compare as well for RGM and PHg. Results showed a 2.7, 27 and 33% difference in the mean GEM, RGM and PHg concentrations, respectively, post QC of each program. It is recommended that RDMQ be used for data that is highly variable with high RGM/PHg concentrations as it allows for more manual correction over the QCed data. This investigation of 2 QC programs produced comparable data and that either of these programs can be used as standard methods for the quality control of atmospheric mercury speciation data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)752-765
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Environmental Monitoring
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2012


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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