The MPCA's work is built on a foundation of sound science. Our pollution prevention, waste reduction, remediation, regulatory, and other decisions are based on the data gathered and analyzed by our staff and partners. The MPCA and its many partners collect a wide variety of data on environmental conditions and pollution sources. Our goal is to use dependable data to make reasonable decisions and drive the most effective environmental restoration and protection efforts.
You will find data and reports throughout our site, but some key repositories include:
- What's in my Neighborhood – Search for contaminated properties, open and closed landfills, hazardous waste disposal sites, petroleum storage tank sites and leak sites, facilities with environmental permits and registrations, and more.
- Air monitoring data – Interactive maps showing Minnesota data on air toxic pollutants, six "criteria" pollutants (small particles, lead, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide), and air monitoring sites.
- SCORE report – Summarizes waste management efforts by Minnesota counties including waste reduction activities, recycling, composting, household hazardous waste programs, and problem materials collection.
- Surface water data – Search for water quality information about specific lakes, rivers, and streams.
- Groundwater data – Use an interactive map to view data from specific groundwater-monitoring stations.
- Groundwater Contamination Atlas – Learn about contamination on specific properties around the state where pollutants have affected groundwater.
The MPCA's Quality System ensures the collection of accurate, reliable, and defensible environmental data. The agency's Quality Management Plan (QMP) documents the MPCA's strategy for building quality into all its programs. The QMP is renewed every five years at a minimum, and reviewed by EPA Region 5 quality assurance managers. The work of each MPCA environmental monitoring program follows an approved quality assurance project plan, work plan, and standard operating procedures.
Laboratory guidance and references
Laboratories submitting data to the MPCA must follow the guidance below to ensure the data is scientifically valid, defensible, and of known precision and accuracy.
Minnesota lab accreditation/certification
- Minnesota Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (MN Dept. of Health) — Accredits commercial, private, and drinking water laboratories
- MPCA laboratory certification — Certifies nonprofit municipal, government, or industrial laboratories submitting data for MPCA programs
- Certified testing laboratories (manure and soil) (MN Dept. of Ag) — Certifies soil and manure laboratories
Data assessment and analysis
An important part of the MPCA's work is evaluating the risks that air, land, and water contaminants pose to human and ecological health. We've developed a variety of tools for that purpose:
- Air emission risk analysis – Used to evaluate and quantify potential human health risks from air pollution emitted by a facility.
- Ambient air toxicity values – The benchmarks used to assess the health risks associated with air toxics concentrations.
- Air quality and health (Cumulative health effects) – The MNRISKS tool provides risks and concentration estimates for nearly all air pollution sources across the state.
- Intrusion screening values – Chemical-specific, risk-based inhalation screening criteria for volatile compounds, used to evaluate indoor air quality.
- Water quality standards – State standards set limits on water pollutants in order to protect surface water or groundwater for specific uses, including drinking, recreation, fish and aquatic life, and more.
- Soil reference and soil leaching values – Soil reference values are a screening tool for evaluating potential human health risks from exposure to contaminated soil. Soil leaching values are screening criteria for evaluating risks posed to groundwater by soil leaching on contaminated sites.
- Sediment quality targets – Developed to protect organisms that dwell in sediments at the bottom of rivers and lakes.
Cumulative impact analysis
When projects or actions are proposed that might affect pollution levels in an area, communities want to know how it will affect human health when combined with other pollutants and stressors in their community. A full cumulative impact analysis would include all of these elements:
- Sensitivity: The magnitude of response to stimuli. People respond differently to pollutants and stressors.
- Additivity: Summing impacts across many chemicals, or integrating the effects of multiple chemicals rather than a single-pollutant analysis.
- Multiple pathways: Recognizing the many ways people are exposed to pollutants, such as breathing, eating, touching, etc.
- Multiple sources: Assessing all sources of pollution, including facilities, background sources, and so on.
- Non-chemical stressors: Taking into account non-chemical factors with adverse effects, such as radon (physical), noise (physical), or bacteria (biological).
- Vulnerability factors: Historical economic and social marginalization impacts a community's ability to recover and repair. This can be shown through health disparities, economic insecurity, safety fears, and other factors.
All six elements of cumulative impact analysis vary in how they are measured, the amount of data available, and MPCA's authority to influence outcomes.
Many MPCA analyses are cumulative in some way, but don't include all elements described above. For instance, an analysis for an air permit would assess air pollutants from a facility and surrounding air quality, but not water quality, soil contamination, or community health, unless an environmental review is triggered.
Examples of cumulative impact analysis:
- Cumulative levels and effects analysis — A requirement for evaluating air permit applications in parts of South Minneapolis.
- Environmental review — An information-gathering activity that helps determine a project’s potential environmental impacts.
Additional reports and data can be found in the MPCA library.