Environmental Monitoring-Best way to ensure sustainable development

Environmental monitoring is a comprehensive method of assessing all the changes and variations that take place in a particular environmental system over a known period of time, mainly effected by human activities. Since this is a monitoring process, this not only involves the sampling and testing of certain parameters (also called environmental indicators) related to the constituents of an ecosystem in order to generate acceptable data, but also encompasses drawing educated and informed objective & subjective judgments based on sampling data collected, and making conclusions along-with taking decisions regarding the actual state of the surveyed environmental system. Finally, tangible mitigation measures need to be taken in order to counter the adverse environmental impacts and suggest strict but practical steps to minimize any such detrimental effects in the future.

Although environmental monitoring and all the activities that form part of it are meant for a particular localized area or activity, but any such single monitoring activity can have an effect on the entire global ecosystem. There are many examples of damages inflicted on the global ecosystem as a result of indiscriminate human activities, like ‘Global warming’, changes in global albedo, production  of waste heat, pollution of stratosphere, and generation of untreated chemical & nuclear wastes. All these environmental changes have been studied by environmental scientists over a long period of time and a trend in each of these changes been documented. A key ingredient in any environmental impact assessment or environmental study is the collection, storage, and retrieval of data when needed. Although it is true that all of the aforesaid changes caused in the environment are irreversible, but the primary aim of the entire world at this point of time is to mitigate much of those harmful effects caused and to reduce, as much possible, all those activities that can further affect our ecosystem. Such objectives can be accomplished only by conducting planned, systematic, and standardized environmental services.

Environmental monitoring involves inspecting the following key aspects: (1) Air Quality (2) Quality of water (3) Solid waste (4) Soil quality (5) Biodiversity indicators (6) Socio-economic aspects like human population settlement, quality of human life (7) Noise & other sources of pollution. Sampling is a very important factor in ensuring accurate test results and hence adopting proper & standardized sampling techniques in relation to all of the above parameters is crucial in conducting a reliable environmental monitoring study.

Many people, especially related to industrial establishments, view the process of environmental monitoring as a time-consuming and costly affair, and hence this important matter has been neglected for quite some time. And unfortunately the stark results are egregiously conspicuous for everyone to see and take notice. But recent deliberations at the global level about this issue have led to this matter being taken seriously by all the developed & developing countries, and as a result of which several environmental regulations, specifications, and guidelines have been implemented and enforced by a number of countries. The responsibility of following the environmental guidelines & specifications is binding on all the industrial and service sectors, like coal, cement, steel, electronics, polymers, pharmaceuticals etc. Besides, such environmental monitoring is a pre-requisite while carrying out any developmental projects like building dams, embankments, flyovers, mining, railway/metro projects etc. Many government bodies like United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), UK Environment Agency, and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) of India have been entrusted with the responsibility of enforcing & supervising environmental monitoring studies across all commercial and non-commercial activities or projects.

Any business project should look at the ‘Sustainability’ aspect of the process and not only at the profit-loss equation, since in the long run the former factor outweighs any short-term lucrative advantage related to returns on investment. The effect of maintaining compliance with the various environmental regulations is manifested through better health and living conditions for all of mankind.


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