ARB Primary Quality Assurance Organization
This page last reviewed April 3, 2013
A Primary Quality Assurance
(PQAO) is a monitoring
organization or a coordinated aggregation of such organizations that is
responsible for a set of stations that monitors the same pollutants and
for which data quality assessments can logically be pooled. Each
criteria pollutant sampler/monitor at a monitoring station in the State
and Local Air Monitoring Station (SLAMS) network must be associated
with one, and only one, PQAO. The term PQAO is a new term established
in the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (U.S. EPA)
revised monitoring regulations promulgated on October 17, 2006.
Previously, the term reporting organization was used to
describe agencies that combined data quality assessments.
ARB is the governmental agency delegated under State law with the authority and responsibility for collecting ambient air quality data as directed by the Clean Air Act of 1977 and Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. ARB and local air pollution control agencies operate ambient monitoring stations throughout the State. As stated in the Federal Code of Regulations (CFR), U.S. EPA has tentatively defined ARB as the PQAO for all of California with the exception of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, and the San Diego Air Pollution Control District.
Factors defining a PQAO include:
- operation by a common team of field operators according to a common set of procedures;
- use of a common quality assurance project plan or standard operating procedures;
- common calibration facilities and standards;
- oversight by a common quality assurance organization; and
- support by a common management, laboratory or headquarters.
Below is a list of resources for air monitoring organizations within ARB's PQAO.
Operating Procedures for Monitoring Organizations within ARB's PQAO
All monitoring organizations within the ARB PQAO are required to adopt and follow ARB standard operating procedures (SOP) for each instrument or submit an alternative SOP to the Quality Management Branch for review and approval. The link above provides a list of SOPs used by monitoring organizations with ARB's PQAO. The list distinguishes whether or not an air monitoring organization is using an ARB SOP or an approved alternate SOP.
- ARB QMP
- Field SOPs (Volume II) (Air Monitoring Web Manual)
- Laboratory SOPs
- Standards Laboratory SOPs
- Audit SOPs
- SOP Checklist Introduction
The Corrective Action Notification (CAN) process was developed for the ARB PQAO to document, investigate, correct, and reduce the recurrence of air monitoring issues that may impact or potentially impact data quality, completeness, storage, or reporting. The objective of the CAN process is to improve the quality of air monitoring data and to ensure compliance with State, federal, and local requirements. The link above directs you to additional information related to the CAN process, including the CAN SOP and CAN Form.
As defined in 40 CFR Part 58 Appendix A, 3.1.1, one of the requirements to meet the definition of a PQAO is to have common calibration facilities and standards that are utilized by the organizations that comprise the PQAO. The use of common calibration facilities and standards ensure the data produced for the PQAO are of similar quality.
The Standards Laboratory performs certification and verification services of calibration instruments, gases, and devices for ARB and local air districts at no cost. Calibrations and certifications are performed for ozone and flow rate transfer standards, certifications are performed for compressed gas cylinders, and verifications are performed for ozone and flow rate primary standards. In addition, multi-point calibrations of pressure transducers, stand alone pressure gauges, barometers, and temperature probes are conducted.
Continuing education and training are an important aspect of maintaining a well trained staff as well as keeping staff apprised of any regulation changes. MLD has developed training modules for ARB staff and station operators from local monitoring organizations. The modules are designed to emphasize the key fundamentals of all aspects of air monitoring.
Join the PQAO
Contact List Serve
The PQAO Contact List Serve will be used by various ARB staff to share pertinent air monitoring information with the local air monitoring organizations. A primary contact for each monitoring organization has been assigned and the primary contact has been added to the list serve. The primary contact will be responsible for sharing information within their respective organization. The list is also open to the public. Anyone interested in receiving air monitoring information updates may also join the list serve.
- ARB PQAO Contact List - List of primary contacts added to the list serve for each monitoring organization within ARB's PQAO. This list does not represent all individuals on the list serve.
For further information contact: Michael Miguel, Chief, Quality Management Branch