Uncertainty of measurements is inevitable, but once estimated, it is possible to make a reliable interpretation of those measurements with a stated level of confidence. Estimates of uncertainty have previously excluded the contribution arising from primary sampling, but new methods have been devised to include this. This total uncertainty can be used to judge the fitness-for-purpose of measurements in many sectors including the assessment of contamination of food and soil.
Most, decisions in environmental science and regulation are based upon measurements but all these measurements are wrong to some extent, whether they are made in the field, or back in the lab. This applies whatever medium is being investigated (e.g. air, water, sediments, soils or food), and irrespective of what property is being measured (e.g. concentration of a contaminants such as metals, or organic compounds).
This website describes the findings from over 20 years of research into these issues, ranging from developments in the fundamental theory of uncertainty of measurement, to applications in many areas of the environment. This research group is lead by Prof Mike Ramsey.