Pollen monitoring: minimum requirements and reproducibility of analysis
Training, quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC) play an important role in building competence in monitoring and research in aerobiology. The main goals of this paper were to: (a) formulate an updated Minimum Requirements Report for pollen monitoring; (b) carry out a pilot QC exercise of staff involved in pollen counting from various national networks in order to examine between analysts reproducibility and develop a methodology that can be used in future QC exercises. A questionnaire survey was sent to coordinators of participating pollen monitoring networks. In addition, a total of 45 technicians from 15 European countries participated in the pilot QC exercise. All technicians were instructed to analyse two slides containing the following pollen types: (a) Poaceae and Betula pollen grains in the north of Europe; (b) Poaceae and Olea pollen grains in the south of Europe. Minimum Recommendations were produced based on the results of the questionnaire survey, published literature, and the outcomes of a workshop. In the QC exercise, it was noticed that technicians who followed the Minimum Recommendations and examined at least 10 % of the slide tended to have better indicators of precision and accuracy than those technicians who did not follow the Minimum Recommendations. The proposed Minimum Recommendations will help to improve the quality of scientific work, particularly for those who are considering the setting up of new monitoring sites. The results of the pilot QC exercise will help to develop a methodology that can be used again in the future, thereby ensuring data quality.
KeywordsAerobiology Quality assurance Quality control Questionnaire
The authors would like to thank the EAS QC Working Group, for their important contribution on this topic in the frame of the European Aerobiology Society (EAS), and also to all counters from different institutions involved in the QC exercise: Aerobiology Laboratuary of Uludag University, Bursa, Turkey; Austrian Pollen Information Service; Croatian National Institute of Public Health; Finnish Pollen Network; German Pollen Information Service; Italian Aerobiological Association; Environment Protection Agency of Bolzano, Italy; Laboratory for Palynology in Novi Sad, Serbia; MeteoSwiss; Polish Aerobiology Network; Portuguese Aerobiology Network; Réseau National de Surveillance Aérobiologique; Spanish Aerobiology Network; UK Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit; Ukrainian Association of Aerobiologists; University of Macedonia.
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