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Pollution Control Technologist
Pollution control technologists focus on identifying pollution sources, monitoring pollutants, and addressing issues of contamination and pollution. They often have specialized training in different sampling techniques, different kinds of pollution, or different measures and equipment for pollution control. Most pollution control technologists work as part of a team of environmental professionals on a wide variety of projects, including pollution prevention and inspections.
At a glanceImagine it is 10 degrees below zero outside and the wind is gusting as you prepare to climb 50 metres up a towering stack. You are a pollution control technologist and today you are gathering samples from a large chemical manufacturing plant. The plant is undergoing its annual environmental review, which evaluates its processes and equipment to ensure it is operating in compliance with applicable regulations. As part of the review team, you will collect emission samples from the plant's three stacks, water samples from its treated effluent, and soil samples from various places on-site for testing to make certain pollutant levels fall below acceptable limits.As a pollution control technologist, you focus on the importance of careful monitoring and testing to ensure harmful chemicals are kept from entering the environment. In the case of this manufacturing plant, the processes used to manufacture its products generate a number of potentially harmful substances. In order to be licensed to operate, the plant must install equipment and implement measures to control these substances so they aren't released into the air or discharged into the river. You and your review team are here to ensure these measures are doing their job.You have had special training in stack testing, which is why you're the person being sent up the stack to draw a sample of its exhaust. If the stack's scrubbers are functioning properly, they will remove nearly all the nitrogen and sulphur compounds from the exhaust, and the sample will come back within acceptable limits.Once you are done with the stack, you will take grab samples of the plant's treated effluent to confirm that clarifiers and settling tanks are adequately treating the water before it is discharged. You'll also take soil samples to ensure that chemical storage and handling procedures are being followed and leaks and spills are cleaned up properly. All these samples will be taken to the lab for analysis and the results used to evaluate the performance of the plant's pollution control measures.
Job dutiesDuties vary significantly from job to job, but the following list includes typical job duties one might encounter as a pollution control technologist:
- Conduct field tests to determine environmental conditions and possible pollutant levels.
- Collect air, water, and soil samples according to sampling protocol.
- Participate in environmental audits for air, water, and solid waste management.
- Install, operate, and maintain pollution control and monitoring equipment.
- Operate fixed or mobile monitoring and data collection stations.
- Interpret sample analyses and field information and evaluate results.
- Prepare reports and present results to clients and colleagues.
Work environmentPollution control technologists work in a variety of locations, including:In the office:
- Doing paperwork and analyzing data for reporting
- Consulting operating manuals and researching new technology
- Communicating on the phone and in meetings with clients, government departments, and the public
- Researching applicable regulations and compliance requirements
- Collecting air, water, and soil samples
- Observing and inspecting sites
- Performing maintenance and repairing equipment
- Auditing and calibrating instrumentation
- Monitoring sensitive ecological receptors and their habitat
Where to workThere are a number of places pollution control technologists can find employment. They include:
- Environmental and engineering consulting firms
- Federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal government departments
- Colleges, universities, and research institutes
- Municipal and industrial treatment facilities
- Waste management firms
- Firms in other industries, for example manufacturing, mining, forestry, and transportation
- Self-employed consultant
- Not-for-profit and non-governmental organizations
Education & requirementsIf you are a high school student considering a career as a pollution control technologist, you should have strong marks or an interest in:
- Environmental Technology
- Environmental Science
- Environmental Engineering Technology
- Environmental Earth Science