Importance of sampling and analysis during environmental research
Sampling can be regarded as the systematic selection of part or some elements within a given population for study. In sampling, a small part of the whole data is selected and used for the study. Sampling is very important in the environmental study as samples collected from parts of the study area are used to represent the whole area. This collection must be done well to ensure that the sampling bias does not occur. Analysis on the other hand refers to the detailed examination and manipulation of the collected data so as to generate results addressing the initial prepositions of the study.
In the first argument, the chemist claims that sampling is not as important as analysis and should not be taught in environmental classes. The main rationale for this argument is that government institutions have well-designed training courses on analysis and there is no need to study sampling techniques. Whereas individuals receive sampling education at their workstations, these sampling courses are usually tailor-made to suit the requirements of a particular case.
On the other hand, sampling lessons in class are meant to introduce the students to the concept of sampling and are therefore very important. In addition, students who don’t join government institutions and would like to work as environmental assessors would not get a chance to study this course. Sampling determines the outcome of the environmental research been carried out and should therefore be done accurately. A wrongly collected sample due to errors in sampling method and procedure will result in wrong conclusions even if the analysis was done correctly. It is therefore imperative that students get well versed with sampling procedures and methods.
Sampling methods differ and depend on the type of environmental study be carried out. Each research has got its own unique sampling method. A study of the general environmental sampling in class is therefore important as it exposes the students to different sampling methods and where they are used. In most cases, environmental agencies and individuals must defend the data collected. This means that sound sampling procedures must be followed. Therefore, it is important to study environmental data sampling.
The second argument is that analysis is not important as sampling. The chemist argument is that students should learn to sample and not data analysis as most government agencies send collected data to chemists for proper analysis to be done. This argument is however wrong because the chemist point of view is that environmentalists must work for government agencies. Private environmentalists or experts may collect samples and do some analysis.
This is particularly important during the initial screening to determine the need for further study or the presence of pollutants within a specific area. It is also important that students have background knowledge of the analysis to be done so that the samples collected can be in line with the analysis being carried out. It is impossible for an expert to collect samples without knowing what kind of analysis will be done and the expected results from this analysis. Thus, an environmental practitioner must have a lot of background knowledge on analysis so as to enhance the sampling and data collection methods. It should also be noted that not all environmental data require chemical analysis; environmentalists can make deductions from observations and physical examination particularly during the initial stages of research. Therefore, it is imperative that students are trained on both analysis and sampling methods and procedures.
The purpose of this environmental study is to develop a baseline environmental study on the specified area. This study will form the basis of future environmental activities. The study area has residential buildings, industries, coastal and commercial areas. The type of study, in this case, can be regarded as a site assessment.
To carry out the study, a team of experts is required. This team is drawn from different study areas and is based on the activities and features located within the study area. The team members will comprise of;
- Principle investigator: He must be an environmentalist with experience in environmental research and study. He will coordinate the whole team and schedule all the activities during the assessment. Based on his knowledge and experience, he will organize and lead the team.
- Chemist: The chemists will advise the team on the methods of collecting samples that require chemical analysis. Specifically, the chemist will devise methods of collecting samples from land and water bodies located within the study area.
- Engineer: The site of study has an industrial park. Generally, industries emit poisonous gases to the atmosphere and also discharge water effluents to the sewer line and water bodies. The engineer will assist the environmentalist on methods of collecting samples from the industries. To perform this task the engineer, chemist, and environmentalist must work as a team.
- Sociologist: Will assist in collecting information from people,
- Soil specialist: The soil expert will advise the team on how to collect soil samples for analysis of any chemical pollutants.
- Geologist: The work of the geologist is to assist the team to identify the place to collect samples based on the geology of the area. For example, discharges from industries and residential buildings may percolate in the soil and are transported to flat areas where they accumulate. A geologist can identify these areas making the process of collecting samples very successful.
- Biologists: Three biologists will be hired to collect samples; these are; marine biologist, zoologist, and the botanist. The biologists will assist the team in collecting samples from the ocean, water bodies, soils, and wetland areas. He can also give insight into how pollution has affected the biological life in the coastal area.
Team member flow chart
The flow chart shown in figure 1 below shows the basic organization of all the team members. The principal investigator leads the team while all the other team members directly report to him. This approach was preferred because the principal investigator can supervise all the other experts and receive reports from them. The geologist will work together with the soil scientist while the three biologists will work as a team.
Classification of samples
The types of samples to be collected in this area include:
- Soil samples: soil samples will be collected in different areas. It is important to analyze these samples as they may contain chemical pollutants. Analysis of these samples will also determine the current concentration of different minerals and chemicals.
- Water samples: samples of water will also be collected for analysis.
- Indoor and outdoor air: samples of air from indoor and outdoor will be collected
- Biological: the biological samples collected for analysis, in this case, includes birds and fish, plants, and microorganisms.
This is a study covering a large area and samples must be collected systematically so as to ensure that all areas are covered. The sampling method must ensure that samples are collected in all the main areas, that is; coastal, residential, commercial, and industrial parks. The study will use stratified random sampling. In this sampling technique, the area will be divided into distinct parts based on expert judgment. These areas are usually referred to as strata. The team will ensure that all important aspects fall under one of these strata. After this classification, the samples will be collected from these strata randomly. The main strata’s in this study area are:
- The coastal area and the ocean –beaches, hotels, the ocean, etc
- Underground water
- The wetlands areas –lagoons, pools of water, etc
- The residential area
- Commercial area
- Recreation parks
Collection of samples from selected areas
After subdividing the region into 7 different parts, the researchers will randomly collect all the samples in all the strata areas. These are described below
Coastal area and ocean
Coastal areas have many biological samples. The marine biologist, zoologist, and botanist will collect and store these samples. The soil in the area will be collected randomly by the soil specialist. Birds, fish, and other large animals will be counted and recorded based on observation of the biologists. Air samples will be collected using an onsite gas analyzer. Ten samples will be randomly collected from this area.
Water samples will be collected by the biologist. This water will be analyzed by the chemist and the biologist. The samples will be collected from boreholes or wells.
Samples of water, soil, and animals will be taken randomly. The soil and water samples will be analyzed to determine the chemicals and living organisms in them. Birds and other large biological samples will be counted and recorded. A total of ten samples will be collected randomly and stored.
Water and soil samples will be collected in this area. Water samples will be collected from sewages, rivers, and other water bodies. Soil samples will be collected randomly using the soil sampling collection tools. A total of ten soil and water samples will be collected. Large animals and birds will be recorded based on observation. The biologists can also examine the animals to determine if they are affected by any pollutant. The concentration of different gases will also be collected using a gas analyzer.
A total of 10 samples will be randomly collected from this area. The air will be analyzed to determine the gas concentration. Soils samples will be collected from soils near the residential areas while water samples will be collected from sewers
Soil and water samples will be collected from industries. A total of ten water and soil samples will be collected randomly. These samples will be collected from the industry’s sewer outlets and soils surrounding the industries. Air samples will be collected using a gas analyzer.
Soil and water samples will be randomly collected from these areas.
Tools used during sampling
The main tools that will be used during the sampling process are
A number of equipment will be used to collect water samples. These include:
- Sampling bottles: these bottles will be labeled and used to store the samples.
- An aquatic suction sampler- will be used to collect samples from deep parts of the river and ocean. It has a long handle that is used to draw water samples from rivers and lakes (dynamic Aqua, 2013).
- Cobar telescopic dipper: will also be used to collect water samples from pools, rivers, and lakes. It will be used to mainly collect sediments underground the water bodies.
- Dynamic aquatic water sampling outfit: this is a complete kit that has a plankton net, turbidity tester, dissolved oxygen tester, PH testing kit, thermometer, water sampling bottle, and secchi disks for turbidity testing, etc (dynamic Aqua, 2013 ).
- AMS piezometer groundwater sampler: will be used to sample underground water.
The professional AMS soil sampling Kit will be used to collect samples from the soil. The kit has a regular and mud auger that is useful for extracting soil samples. The equipment comes as a complete kit with augers, extensions, cross handles, slide hammers, split-core samplers, and other soil sampling equipment (AMS, 2013).
The air sampling equipment will be obtained from Airmet (Airmet, 2013). The main equipment to use includes constant flow pumps, area sampling pumps, particulate sampling pumps, and gas pumps. This equipment will be used to determine the air quality, chemicals, and aerosol contained in it (Airmet, 2013).
Biological sampling tools
The main biological samples to be collected are animals and plants found in the soil and water bodies in the area. Large animals, plants, and birds will be counted by the biologists. Using this data, the biologist will determine the approximate population of different plant and animal species. The biologist will randomly examine selected plants and animals in order to determine if they have been affected by the negative impacts of pollution. Microorganisms found in water will be collected using water sampling equipment. This water will be stored in well-labeled bottles. The soils will also be collected using the soil sampling toolkits, stored, and later analyzed to determine the microorganism present. The biological samples will be preserved using coolers and preserving chemicals.
Quality standards and guidelines
To ensure that sampling, data collection, analysis, and classification is done to the highest standards and quality, the team will use guidelines provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (EPA, 2013). EPA follows a set of guidelines and has various procedures for collecting and classifying samples. EPA guidelines for assessing water, air, soil, and underground water samples will be followed. For example, EPA documents a number of guidelines that can be used for assessing coastal water (EPA, 2010) while air quality guidelines as also specified in various publications by EPA (2013a). All these will be used as a benchmark during the assessment. The methods are used by the team will be compared to the guidelines set by EPA to ensure that the study will be effective and of high standards.
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Dynamic Aqua.(2013). Water sampling equipments. Web.
EPA.(2010). National Coastal Condition Assessment Site Evaluation Guidelines. Web.
EPA.(2013). United States Environmental Protection Agency Website. Web.
EPA.(2013a). Indoor Air Sampling Methods and Analyses. Web.
Forestry supplies.(2013). Water Sampling & Sediment Sampling Equipment. Web.