To monitor means to survey. Environmental monitoring focuses on surveying the soil, water, air, plants and animals to ensure that no pollution has occurred which can expose people, plants and animals to toxic substances.
The Department of Environment and Mineral Resources, in collaboration with the DCE, is involved in the environmental monitoring of a range of former and ongoing mining projects in Greenland, including the closed Nalunaq gold mine near Nanortalik, and the newly started ruby mine near Qeqertarsuatsiaat (Fiskenæsset). Monitoring is typically done by e.g. measuring the concentrations of a number of elements in samples taken from water, arctic char, sculpins, mussels, seaweed and lichen.
Water samples are used to assess the current concentrations in treated water, wastewater, rivers, lakes and fjords, while samples from arctic char, sculpins, mussels and seaweed can indicate emissions and impact over a longer period of time because they accumulate many toxic elements, such as heavy metals. Lichen samples are used to measure the spread of pollution via dust particles.