Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

An outline for permanent monitoring areas for urban soil quality

In view of the difficulties of sampling and monitoring the environmental quality of urban soils we propose the implementation of one or more PERMANENT MONITORING AREA (PMA) within cities. These are areas devoted to the periodic measurement of soil properties and contaminants according to a defined spatial and temporal scheme.

The establishment of PMAs has the following advantages:
a) Costs are significantly lower than extensive monitoring;
b) Allows analytical synergies as many parameters can be measured for the same site and correlated;
c) Allows for temporal variability of parameters to be more easily detected;
d) Reduces problems of spatial variability (which would be known);
e) Allows for links between environmental compartments to be better investigated (PM10 from soil, contaminant leaching, diffuse contamination,¿);
f) Allows for investigation of the effects of environmental measures


a) Size and shape
It is recommended that a PMA has a surface of about 40-50000m2. This would correspond approximately to a 200 x 200m square but the no precise indication can be given about the shape, as it has to adapt to the available space.
An example of a possible Permanent Monitoring Area is presented in the figure below.
The proximity with Air Quality and Traffic monitoring stations make this site particularly suitable for this type of installation.
b) Number and location
The number and location of PMAs depends on the limitation of available space, as describe above. However they should be conveniently located (centre/suburb, industrial/residential, etc) according to the main features of the urban ecosystem and to the parameters to be kept under control. Whenever possible the location should be far from known point source of pollutions.

Ideally PMAs should be coupled with other ecosystem monitoring operations such as:
- traffic intensity
- climate (air temperature, precipitation)
- air quality (gases, airborne particulate, etc.)
The number would also depend on the size of the city. In small towns like Aveiro or Uppsala one PMA could be sufficient while in a large city like Glasgow 4-5 could give a reasonable quality of information. Once established, the PMAs should be included in the Land Use Plan so that their use is not changed.

c) Parameters to be measured
A tentative list of parameters that can be measured in a permanent monitoring area is provided together with sampling indications and frequency of measurement. It is intended that, a part from the parameters indicated in the Soil Quality Indicators list, all others characteristics are optional and can be selected according to specific situation of the city. Similarly, the number of samples and the frequency has to be established on the basis of local requirements. These can also be changed in time when the results of previous analyses become available. The indications provided here are based on the results of the URBSOIL project and on current soil knowledge.

Reported by

Universita di Torino DIVAPRA
Via Leonardo da Vinci, 44
10095 Grugliasco
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