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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

Environmental Geosciences (DEG)


Environmental Geosciences, V. 13, No. 4 (December 2006), P. 261-266.

Copyright copy2006. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists/Division of Environmental Geosciences. All rights reserved.


Setting environmental standards: A statistician's perspective

Peter Guttorp1

1Department of Statistics, Box 354322, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195-4322; [email protected]


Peter Guttorp is professor and chair of the Department of Statistics at the University of Washington. He is also the director of the National Research Center for Statistics and the Environment, a multidisciplinary group of environmetricians. His research is focused on the methodology for scientific problems in atmospheric science, environmental science, and hematology. He has published two monographs and numerous scientific articles.


Although the research described in this article has been funded in part by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through agreement CR825173-01-0 to the University of Washington, it has not been subjected to the agency's required peer and policy review and, therefore, does not necessarily reflect the views of the agency, and no official endorsement should be inferred. The author is grateful to the National Research Center for Statistics and the Environment standards group, in particular Mary Lou Thompson, Larry Cox, and Paul Sampson, for many illuminating discussions and Anthony Nguyen for computational help.


Governmental environmental protection is commonly implemented by specifying a standard value of pollution, measured or actual, not to be exceeded. This article considers the standard for ozone pollution in the United States, interprets it using a hypothesis testing framework, and shows (in a simplified setting) how a statistician could implement this standard. The statistician's implementation is contrasted with the implementation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Some of the issues raised by these contrasting implementations are illustrated using ozone data from three areas in the United States. This article also examines potential biases in using data collected for standard compliance monitoring purposes to assess the health effects of ozone.

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