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Statistical Applications for Environmental Analysis and Risk Assessment by Joseph Ofungwu

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Chapter 1Introduction

1.1 Introduction and Overview

Statistics is viewed by many as a branch of mathematics and since math is widely regarded as a difficult subject, people often assume automatically that statistics must be just as difficult. In truth, there is much not to “fear” in statistics, which in some cases involves nothing more complex than elementary arithmetic operations. As proof that statistics is not as “unappetizing” as it might seem, it is one of the few disciplines that find useful applications across a wide variety of professions, including the medical and biomedical, social sciences and psychology, economics, environmental and engineering professions, and so on. The environmental profession is almost completely driven by data, but surprisingly does not seem to have embraced statistics as much as some of the other professions just mentioned. Environmental engineers, geologists, scientists, or other professionals engaged in miscellaneous practice, research, or related activities have to work routinely with data from soil and sediment, surface and groundwater, ambient air, and other environmental media, for a variety of reasons or purposes. Data are collected to investigate or monitor an environmental concern, analyzed, and interpreted to gain insights into the situation, and the findings used to support decisions on response actions or predict future outcomes.

There appears to be a number of possible reasons why the use of statistics is not as widespread among ...

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