Air Pollution

National Air Monitoring Network Is Inadequate Gao ID: RCED-90-15 November 2, 1989

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) efforts to collect and report complete, accurate, and reliable air monitoring data, focusing on: (1) EPA progress in establishing a national monitoring network; (2) the condition of air monitoring equipment; and (3) the effectiveness of EPA quality assurance measures.

GAO found that EPA: (1) did not meet its own requirements to have a national air monitoring network in place by July 1982; (2) attributed the delay in network completion to its uncertainty about requiring state and local agencies to expand their networks and to insufficient federal, state, and local funds; (3) needed 42 more monitors to complete its network, although population changes could cause a need for additional monitors; (4) lacked an overall plan to identify and meet equipment replacement needs, although 68 percent of the monitors were over 7 years old, their estimated useful life; (5) relied on state and local agencies to make it aware of equipment needs; (6) estimated that it would cost $7.1 million to replace aging monitoring equipment; (7) lacked an overall plan for helping states implement alternative funding programs for monitoring efforts; (8) inconsistently conducted biannual reviews and annual accuracy tests of monitors; (9) did not ensure that agencies provided valid, reliable monitoring data; and (10) allowed state and local agencies to select the monitors to be tested for accuracy.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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