Standard Article

Action Levels, Regulatory

Environmental Policy and Regulation

  1. Dr Jeffrey van Ee

Published Online: 15 SEP 2006

DOI: 10.1002/9780470057339.vaa005

Encyclopedia of Environmetrics

Encyclopedia of Environmetrics

How to Cite

van Ee, J. 2006. Action Levels, Regulatory. Encyclopedia of Environmetrics. 1.

Author Information

  1. United States Environmental Protection Agency, NV, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2006


Environmental data are often collected to assess whether an action level or regulatory standard has been exceeded. If a statistician is involved in the decision-making process, it is often at the latter stages when the data have already been collected and a comparison is needed; however, at times a statistician may not be involved. In either case, a major problem in making the comparisons is a lack of understanding of basic assumptions and principles that lie behind the important comparisons. The US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has advanced for years the ‘Data Quality Objective’ (DQO) process to define better basic issues in the decision-making process and to aid in communicating acceptable costs and errors in the decision-making process between stakeholders. Although the DQO process is performance-based and provides real opportunities for cost savings, it can be misinterpreted. A major problem occurs when the basic principles that underlie the setting of the action-level or regulatory standard and the representativeness of the sample data for comparison purposes are not applied concurrently.