MCERTS accreditation plays key role in AQM

As legislation and regulation take an increasingly important part in combating air pollution, particulary through IPPC and linked systems of control, the role of MCERTS accreditation in Air Quality Management (AQM) has been enhanced. But just how does MCERTS work? Key issues, including the responsibilities of local authorities, are discussed here.

Pollution from industrial installations in England and Wales has been controlled to some extent for over 150 years. The Pollution Prevention and Control (England and Wales) Regulations 2000 (the "PPC Regulations") were introduced under thePollution Prevention and Control Act 1999 and build on existing systems.

The PPC Regulations introduce three separate, but linked, systems of pollution control:

  • Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC), which covers installa- tions known as A(1) installations, which are regulated by the Environment Agency;
  • Local Authority Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (LA-IPPC) which covers installations known as A(2) installations, which are regulated by local authorities;
  • and, Local Authority Pollution Prevention and Control (LAPPC), which covers installations known as Part B installations, also regulated by local authorities. There are some 17,000 Part B installations.
  • Ensuring quality

    MCERTS is a scheme established by the Environment Agency to deliver quality environmental measurements. The scheme provides for the product certification of instruments, the competency certification of personnel, and the accreditation of organisations based on international standards. More information can be found on the Environment Agency website www.mcerts.net.

    In May 2003 DEFRA issued a consultation paper with the following recommendations: that where new or replacement continuous emission monitors (CEMs) are installed in Part B processes/installations after 1 April 2004, these should be MCERTS certified; that all existing CEMs in Part B processes/installations should be replaced, where necessary, with MCERTS certified equipment by 1 April 2009; that all manual stack emissions monitoring undertaken on Part B processes/installations should be carried out by MCERTS-certified personnel from 1 April 2004.

    As a result of this consultation, specific advice is available from DEFRA and the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) relating to the use of MCERTS in the regulation of Part B Processes. This is available at www.defra.gov.uk/environment/airquality/lapc/aqnotes/aq12(04).htm.

    Guidance on accreditation

    In summary, this guidance states that MCERTS accreditation is not compulsory in the authorisation of Part B Processes either for the monitoring equipment or the monitoring staff. However, there are a number of circumstances in which MCERTS accreditation may be necessary. For example, the DEFRA guidance tells us "if the difference in cost between a 'fit for purpose' unaccredited CEM and an MCERTS-accredited instrument was negligible, it would generally be reasonable to expect the operator to opt for the latter when installing a new CEM or replacing an existing one". In addition, "if there are cases where the uncertainties of existing CEMs are not known or have not been quantified, local authorities should require such quantification to be undertaken by the operator so as to be able to judge the instrument's suitability. If this is not feasible or not carried out, it should be replaced with an instrument with known tolerances."

    Further guidance exists with relation to the use of qualified monitoring staff - "DEFRA/WAG consider that use of MCERTS-certified personnel is desirable, but that each case should be judged on its merits".

    DEFRA/WAG recognise that instruments approved under MCERTS can generally be expected to produce measurements with less uncertainty than CEMs which have not been approved.

    MCERTS diary date

    It is evident that the role of local authorities in pollution prevention and control is somewhat complicated, so it is helpful that a wealth of information is available from the DEFRA web site, and an event, known as MCERTS, has been created specifically to provide the latest help and guidance on matters relating to air quality monitoring.

    MCERTS 2005 is an event comprising a conference, workshops and exhibition, that focuses on air quality monitoring. It is jointly organised by the Environment Agency, the Source Testing Association, and Environmental Technology (Publications).

    The Conference and Workshops will deal with issues relating to air quality in stack emissions, the ambient environment and in the workplace. Presentations will include topical subjects such as CEMS, BS EN 14181, dioxin monitoring, discontinuous monitoring, particulate monitor calibration, manual stack monitoring, and the certification of monitoring staff.

    BS EN 14181 is a Standard relating to stationary source emissions and is one of the most significant and demanding standards to be developed by CEN with far-reaching consequences for regulators, equipment manufacturers, test houses and process operators.

    Looking forward to this year's event, John Tipping from the Environment Agency added: "MCERTS 2005 promises to be even bigger and better. Over the 18 months or so since the last event MCERTS has made major progress in a number of areas, for example, increased number of certified instruments, certified personnel and accredited laboratories, the launch of a scheme for portable gas analysers and technical endorsement 5 for PM10 etc. There is also the extension to direct toxicity measurements and potential extension to landfill gas measurements.

    "One further major development has been the introduction of European standard EN 14181 for LCPD (Large Combustion Plant Directive) and WID (Waste Incineration Directive) installations. We will be running workshops on this important standard during the two days at Bretby".

    Delegate numbers at the 2004 MCERTS event were up by 50% over the previous year, and as such the organisers anticipate that 2005 will also be a sell-out. Further information on the event can be obtained from www.mcerts.uk.com


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