Stack Testing Compliance Controls Air Emissions and Maintains Air Quality

Stack Testing for Air Quality ControlStack testing for any industry that utilizes a tower for production is a necessary component of the facility operation.  Compliance with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations on stack testing and air emissions is necessary in order to avoid violations and penalties as well as to aid in the management of environmental health and air quality as put forth in the Clean Air Act, originally enacted in 1970 and improved by amendments over the last forty years.

The EPA states that consistent, complete, and accurate stack test information is critical in managing the national air program.  Stack testing is conducted for purposes of performing routine source maintenance, relative accuracy test audits (RATA tests), linearity checks, and routine calibration of continuous emission monitoring systems (CEMS Testing).  All of these performance tests ultimately help determine compliance with applicable regional, state, or national EPA standards using approved test methodologies.

Stack testing protocols vary according to industry, process, facility, and permit requirements.  Some of the different protocols available for testing emission units include:

  • Manual Emissions Testing – includes EPA test methods and NIOSH/OSHA methods as well as ASTM, CARB, and SW846 test methods.
  • Instrumental Emission Testing – includes CEMS Testing, Performance Specification Testing, CO/CO2/O2/SO2/NOx, and Total Gaseous Organics.
  • Special Emissions Testing – can include Capture Efficiency (CE) determinations, VOC emissions profiling, Thermal Oxidizer Temperatire Optimization, and Mercury speciation determination.
  • Air Pollution Control Equipment Testing and Optimization – facilities can expect on-site inspection, equipment specification data, diagnostic testing, performance data evaluation, adn pilot plant tests.

While environmental regulations seem to be ever-changing, stack testing equipment and technology must keep pace with industry developments affecting air quality.  Environmental consulting firms and stack testing agencies are challenged to remain on the cusp of new and revamped air quality regulations.  Routine testing and maintenance programs help compliance efforts as well as reliance on a qualified and reputable stack testing company.

Please contact the experts at Environmental Source Samplers (ESS) to learn more about our stack testing services:

Phone: 910-799-1055

12 Things to Look for in a Stack Testing Company

Stack Testing SpecialistStack testing companies specialize in air emissions testing for compliance with standards and test methodologies set out by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Manufacturing and processing industries such as Pulp and Paper, Cement, Pharmaceutical, and Petrochemical, use a large variety of air emissions sources — like baghouses, boilers, engines, heaters, incinerators, lime kilns, regenerative thermal oxidizers, turbines, and many more — all of which require testing for air quality compliance.

While these industries must comply with the government standards for air testing, they do have options when it comes to choosing a stack testing company.  There are many factors to consider when choosing a stack testing company, and we’ve set out to bring you the Top 12 Things To Look For in a Stack Testing Company.

  1. QSTI Certified – The Source Evaluation Society (SES) has developed the Qualified Source Testing Individual (QSTI) program to ensure that stack testing companies can demonstrate knowledge and the ability to apply source testing methods as well as fundamental engineering and chemistry principles in a consistent and professional manner.
  2. ISO Compliant (QA Program) – Compliance with the Source Emission Testing Quality Assurance Program helps ensure the validity of the data generated in the course of operations.
  3. NELAC Accredited – Accreditation with the National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation (NELAC) Institute (TNI) ensures that the stack testing company meets the national standard for generating environmental data.
  4. Experience in Your Industry – Check the references and background of a stack testing company to be sure that they have experience in your specific industry and equipment can ensure a more timely and cost effective result as their testing and reporting process will likely be more streamlined.
  5. A Record of Success – Researching how long the stack testing company has been in operation builds confidence that you can rely on them as your go-to source emission testing partner.
  6. Familiarity with Your State Regulations – Specific State regulations in the field of environmental air quality are different from one state to the next and are subject to change at any time.  Make sure that your stack testing company is up-to-date on the current regulations for your particular State.
  7. Cost Competitive Pricing – Compare the quotes from different stack testing companies not only on pricing, but also the comprehensive methods of analysis and data acquisition.  Cost is an important consideration, but before you go with the lowest bidder review the proposals to make sure that the low cost does not mean that you sacrifice quality of service.
  8. Safety Record – Safety is an issue and responsibility for both the stack testing company and the client themselves.  Check the safety record of the company you’re researching so you can be confident in the quality and safety of your operation.
  9. Rapid Mobilizations – How accessible is your stack testing company?  Make sure they can get to your site as quickly as possible when needed.
  10. Turn-around time on Results – Look for safe and reliable on-site labs and mobile data analysis to be sure that you’re getting the best turnaround time on your air testing results.
  11. Clear, Concise, Correct Reporting – Accurate and reliable test reports are crucial, so you can understand, evaluate, and process the data results in a manner relevant to your particular company and industry.
  12. Familiarity with EPA Electronic Reporting – Electronic reporting that can be uploaded, downloaded, and updated is more than a convenience in this era of air quality compliance.  Your business depends on the data contained in these reports and accessing it in an electronic format is critical to your business operations.

As you can see, there are many elements involved in choosing the right stack testing company for your needs.  We’ve highlighted some of the most important factors that you want to consider in your research.  These factors affect the success of your business, the safety and reliability of your operation, and the health of our environment.  Stack testing may be a requirement, but the quality of service and the results you receive are factors well within your control.

Please contact the experts at Environmental Source Samplers (ESS) to learn more about our stack testing services:

Phone: 910-799-1055

Ways to Prepare for your Upcoming Stack Test

Stack Testing ServicesSource Emissions testing, or stack testing, is mandated by the Clean Air Act of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which sets forth guidelines and requirements that must be met to determine a facility’s compliance with emission limits.  Any and all plants, factories, and facilities that utilize a stack as part of manufacturing or production operations are required to undergo stack testing in order to demonstrate compliance with current EPA standards.  There is more to stack testing than simple compliance, however.  A properly-executed testing plan gives you the diagnostic tools to help optimize your operations and improve energy efficiency — quality incentives for voluntary stack testing that is not simply driven by EPA requirements.  With careful preparation for stack-testing compliance and the proper execution of the test plan, a company can save money, protect workers, and effectively streamline their operations.

As a company prepares their facility for an upcoming stack test, reviewing the state-approved test plan is the best way to ensure that you understand all of the testing requirements.  Doing so is your greatest insurance that the stack testing results will show proper compliance with all relevant EPA air emission standards.  However, in many cases technical or legal jargon may make a portion or the entirety of the test plan difficult to understand, and it may not contain all of the required information necessary to conduct a successful test.  To assist you with this, we have put together the following Stack Testing Preparation Checklist to help you make sure that your company is properly prepared for your upcoming testing.  All items on this checklist should be reviewed with your qualified stack-testing team.

  1. What Load you will test at – This information is typically in your air permit
  2. What Fuel you will burn – Different fuel types can have vastly different emission limits
  3. OSHA compliant platforms – How will the stack test team reach the sampling plane?
  4. Power Requirements – Do you have enough circuits?
  5. Safety/Insurance Concerns- What are your facility requirements?  Does your stack test company meet these requirements?
  6. Are your test ports free from blockage and EPA Method 1 Compliant?
  7. What process data are you required to document, and how will that data be logged?

This checklist is compiled by an experienced stack testing company familiar with the pitfalls a company can experience when faced with an upcoming test.  Advance preparation, with these guidelines in mind, will provide your company the ability to address any issues or questions prior to the stack testing date, saving the time, hassle, and money that late revisions and changes inevitably cause.  These guidelines are also helpful in maintaining high levels of safety and compliance regardless of a scheduled stack test, benefitting overall operations and their environmental impact.

Choosing a stack testing company that has the appropriate background and experience for your industry will help ensure that your stack test will be successful.  The stack testing company should have the capability to execute the testing types and methodologies that govern your specific operations, and they should be using equipment that is well-maintained and up-to-date.  Just as importantly, they should be current and informed on the changes and revisions to existing testing methodologies, since the EPA air emission limits and standards are subject to change as the Agency sees fit.

Stack testing is required and performed for the health and safety of the plant, the workers, and the environment.   It is also a diagnostic tool that provides insight into the efficiency of your operations.  But whether you test for compliance or diagnostic purposes, careful preparation is the key to ensuring that your stack testing project gives you data that you can use effectively.

Please contact the experts at Environmental Source Samplers (ESS) to learn more about their stack testing services:

Phone: 910-799-1055

International Stack Testing – Challenges and Solutions

International Stack Testing

International Stack Testing

Source emission testing, or stack testing, is an established and understood part of a facility’s production requirements in the United States. The rules and methodologies are largely known and understood, and the potential challenges that can occur are generally recognized and expected. However, when conducting the same testing in an international venue, this is often not the case. There are, in addition to the standard challenges faced in the American environment, additional challenges that will often occur, and should be known, understood, and prepared for. Environmental Source Samplers has conducted many international stack testing projects, and recognizes a few of the common challenges that can be faced, and has solutions in place to deal with them as, or even before they occur.

The first challenge is one of logistics. Mobilization is always an aspect in testing, but when occurring internationally it is much more complex, and requires very careful preparation. Equipment that can be easily located in the USA is often much more difficult to obtain abroad, and foreign analysis laboratories are not necessarily equipped to properly analyze samples obtained during the project. This means that all required equipment must be shipped to the site, and that frequently all of your collected samples must also be shipped back to the United States. For dealing with customs for your necessary samples and equipment, a Carnet document is highly useful for easing the passage, but the real key to a successful international test is preparation, and project understanding. If you know exactly what you need, in regards to lab analysis and required equipment, and prepare for all of your needs beforehand, as well as any contingencies that may arise, it will eliminate any uncertainty, and the chance that you will be left without something you need, and no easy way to obtain it.

Another challenge is that the site staff in the international facility may not have the level of experience or awareness of regulations and approved EPA methods that you would expect in the States. Many countries developing their economies have not focused on the need for environmental protection and air quality, and the industry is still very much in development in the emerging economies. Rules are sometimes unenforced or underdeveloped, and very much a learning project on the part of the site workers. Many emerging countries, such as China or India, hire an American testing firm not just on the understanding that the project will be completed correctly and professionally, but also under the expectation of knowledge transfer, a learning process for themselves so, in the future, they can conduct the testing as well. This can lead to more observers, and thus a slower process than is typical in the USA. The key to managing this challenge is to know your own requirements. International testing projects require highly experienced team and project leads, that know and understand appropriate methods, requirements, and how to obtain correct results. They need to be flexible and adaptable to potential changes in scheduling, and should expect to answer more questions, even basic ones, than they are typically accustomed to.

A final, often overlooked challenge is maintaining appropriate communication channels with your home office. Projects taking place on the other side of the world can lead to many challenges with communications, as one person’s late morning is another’s midnight. This can open the door to the possibility of missed information and failure to follow through on matters promptly, and that must, and can be avoided. Again, preparedness is the key, on part of both the home office and the staff on the international site. Make your connections count, know what you need to have done before each call or virtual meeting, and know what is expected of you. Every person must make sure that they cover all necessary points during the meeting, who is responsible for what needs to be done, and that everybody understands and is on the same page by the time the meeting is over. If you are used to working synchronously, it is advised to make a ledger of points to be brought up, to lessen the chance of something getting missed, and delayed for another period of time.

Experience is the greatest benefit, and when you conduct an international stack testing project, your stack testing team should be one that has long experience, both domestically and internationally. With careful preparation and a knowledge of the challenges to be faced, problems can be remediated or even avoided altogether, leading to the conclusion of a successful stack-testing project.

Environmental Source Samplers has conducted international stack testing projects at Johnson Atoll, in the Philippines, the Dominican Republic, Hong Kong, and various parts of Europe. If you need a team that will do your international job with efficiency and effectiveness, give us a call at (910) 799-1055.


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