2Measurements in Environmental Engineering

Daniel A. Vallero

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA


The environment consists of very complex systems ranging in scale from the cell to the planet. These systems are comprised of matrices of nonliving (i.e. abiotic) and living (biotic) components. To determine the condition of such systems calls for various means of measurement. Many of these measurements direct physical and chemical measurements, e.g. temperature, density, and pH of soil and water. Others are indirect, such as light scattering as indication of the number of aerosols in the atmosphere. This chapter provides an overview of some of the most important measurement methods in use today. In addition, the chapter introduces some of the techniques available for sampling, analysis, and extrapolation and interpolation of measured results, using various types of models.

2.1 Introduction

According to their codes of ethics and practice, engineers must hold paramount the public’s safety, health, and welfare (National Society of Professional Engineers, 2016). Engineers apply the sciences to address societal needs. Environmental engineers are particularly interested in protecting public health and ecosystem conditions.

Myriad human activities, such as energy generation and transmission, transportation, food production, and housing, generate wastes and pollute environmental media, i.e. air, water, soil, sediment, and biota. ...

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