Industries bowing to pressure to comply with regulations to reduce pollutants

In response to ever tightening regulations, researchers are developing innovative environmental technologies, including test kits for analysing nitrate levels in crops before harvest, nitrogen content in fertilisers, and water quality of agricultural runoffs.

March 31, 2004 -- In response to ever tightening regulations, researchers are developing innovative environmental technologies, including test kits for analysing nitrate levels in crops before harvest, nitrogen content in fertilisers, and water quality of agricultural runoffs.

Similarly, monitors for checking soil and factory farm wastes are also under development.

Samples from chemical waste dumps where toxic spills have occurred are usually collected and transported to laboratories for analysis. A recently developed and EPA-verified technology can do the job of established sensors in real time at far lower costs.

"These devices are based on an array of polymer-based microsensors known as chemiresistors that are packaged in a waterproof housing, which is designed to detect volatile organic compounds in harsh subsurface environments," says Ms. Miriam Nagel, an analyst with Technical Insights, a division of Frost & Sullivan.

Pollutants from vehicular exhaust such as oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds create ground-level ozone. Sensing technologies are already available for on-vehicle emissions analysis. However, manufacturers are developing new technologies for products that are still emerging.

Traditional analytical techniques are in danger of being replaced by new competing technologies, which are not only more advanced but also more convenient. A case in point is a remote sensor for on-board monitoring of vehicular emissions including total hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, and carbon monoxide. This device helps check for conformity with every vehicular operating condition.

Advanced smart sensors now address environmental safety in workplaces, on roadways, in airports, or inside buildings. Technologically advanced sensors are available to monitor road conditions on site and warn air traffic authorities of wind shear on runways and lightning strikes.

Sensors are also being employed in research on the structural response to potential seismic events. As a follow-up, dense monitoring is being conducted to provide data for construction of safer buildings.

Intelligent sensors warn against exposure to accumulated radon in buildings, even in areas of high density and variable occupancy. They can also be used to provide data that can help correlate the characteristics of a seismic wave field with structural response.

"Key words in the industry today are small, smart, wireless, and embedded," notes Ms. Nagel. "Smart sensor technology, which was developed for environmental sensing, is likely to soon be in everyone's future, everywhere."

Water and air pollution are largely the legacies of industrialisation. Regulatory bodies are stepping up pressure on industries to comply with environmental laws, especially with the ratification of several international protocols.

Europe actively supports several environmental regulations such as the Kyoto Protocol and organisations such as the International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE) -- a worldwide partnership for compliance with and enforcement of domestic and global environmental laws. Europe also has its own clean air directive, the Clean Air for Europe (CAFE) programme.

"As required by the Clean Air Act in the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed a list of source categories that must meet control technology requirements for these toxic air pollutants," states Technical Insights (www.technical-insights.frost.com) analyst Miriam Nagel. "The EPA is required to develop regulations for all industries that emit one or more of the pollutants in significant quantities."

There is also a Clean Water Act, which aims to provide uncontaminated drinking water by regulating nitrate and nitrites levels. Since these compounds are very soluble and do not bind to soils, there is a good chance of them percolating into groundwater supplies. Continued consumption of even low levels of nitrates through water could cause bladder cancer.

Technical Insights, a business unit of Frost & Sullivan, is an international technology information analysis business that produces a variety of technical news alerts, newsletters, and research services.

If you are interested in a summary of this research service providing an introduction to the environmental sensing and monitoring industry, please send an email to Kristina Menzefricke, Corporate Communications at kristina.menzefricke@frost.com with the following information: full name, company name, title, contact telephone number, email. Upon receipt of the above information, the summary will be emailed to you.

Title: Environmental Sensing and Monitoring -- Technology Developments and Growth Opportunities

Code: D268

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