“What areas do you service?”
Our typical operating area spans the Northeastern United States, though we have recently performed test programs as far south as Georgia and as far west as Arkansas. As most test programs require deployment of significant amounts of equipment and/or a laboratory trailer, operational range is limited only by where we can economically drive to.
“How far in advance should I set up my emissions testing?”
Minimum: Most compliance emissions testing requires submittal of a pre-test Protocol to the applicable regulatory agencies at least 30-60 days in advance of the date of testing. In order to give us time to agree on contracting issues and gather information to prepare the Protocol, it is recommended that you plan to choose your emissions testing contractor at least 2-3 months prior to your intended testing time frame.
If you have highly specific scheduling requirements: If your test schedule is extremely inflexible, such as needing to test during a specific week due to process availability, we encourage you to contact us concerning your requirements preferably 9-12 months in advance of anticipated testing.
“Our sample location is outdoors. Can you test it in the winter?”
We maintain equipment and expertise that enable us to perform quality emissions test programs year-round. Keep in mind, however, that testing during the coldest months of the year incurs an increased risk of weather-related delays, which can increase the cost of your test program. Whenever possible, we recommend scheduling testing on sources with exposed, outdoor sample locations between April and November.
“Our sample location is way up in the air and has no access platform. Can you provide a lift or scaffolding?”
Air Measurement personnel are rigorously trained in fall protection and operation of mobile lift equipment. However, provision of access to the sampling location is the responsibility of the customer. Arrangements for rental of mobile lifts or installation of staging need to be made with local service providers and usually involve coordinating delivery and setup several days ahead of our arrival on site. This is best handled by on-site personnel.
“How do I select an air testing firm?”
Selecting an air testing firm appears simple on the surface. After all, “They’re all the same”, right? So simply select the one with the lowest base bid. But in reality, not all firms are the same. Each firm has different management and philosophies, different experience, different equipment, different procedures, different personnel, and each generates a different report. Make the right selection – and your project will proceed to completion without a hitch. Select the wrong firm – and you may overpay for the service or worse. An inexperienced project manager may not be able to make appropriate decisions, which could lead to a failed test, inaccurate results, or costly testing delays.
To complicate your decision further, each test program is different. Processes vary, facilities vary and regulations between states vary. So, how can you be sure you will select the “best” firm to perform your project? Begin by reviewing the information provided below. This information is provided to assist you to make an informed decision when faced with the responsibility of selecting an air testing firm. This information has been complied based on bidding hundreds of projects, some requests for proposals that were clearly scoped and many more that were not.
Before requesting proposals, determine the following:
- The purpose of testing
- All applicable regulatory and permit requirements
- The type of process to be tested (batch, continuous)
- Identify of the compounds to be measured AND all other compounds present; Other compounds may interfere with the accurate measurement of the target compounds.
- Specify schedule.
- Identify any unusual requirements (required safety training, must conclude testing by 4 pm each day, etc).
Specific to emissions testing:
- Identify of the configuration (horizontal, vertical), type (duct, stack, vent) and size (diameter) of each test location, where applicable.
- Specify the number and size of available test ports
- Anticipated gas stream temperature
- Identify of all safety considerations
Once you have gathered as much relevant information as possible, develop a short bidders list. If you are uncertain who to invite to bid, ask industry peers, check with industry trade associations, and ask your local/state regulatory agency for referrals.
Remember to ask bidders for references from similar projects and check them. Also ask specifically who will perform the testing. Any firm is only as good as the personnel assigned to your project.
Successfully completing the project on-time and within budget are your primary objectives. Don’t be tempted to simply select the lowest base bid. Most emissions testing firms include “stand-by” charges that will be billed if your process is not ready to be tested at the time agreed. In general, this is a legitimate charge. However, some firms artificially inflate stand-by charges to be able to lower their base bid. (These firms are betting that your facility won’t be ready to test as scheduled.) When evaluating bids, you may want to look at the combined cost estimate of the base bid plus some amount of stand-by time. The results of this type of bid analysis may not make the low base bid as attractive. Also determine, in advance, what charges will apply if the testing firm is not ready to test when scheduled. Placing your process on stand-by while waiting for the low bidder to get their equipment ready to test may cost you multiples of the base bid savings.
Above all else, you must be comfortable with the firm you select. This generally means meeting the person responsible for performing your project and discussing their experience and your expectations before the project begins.
“Can my in-house staff collect these samples?”
In general, collection of representative samples to accurately quantify emissions of air contaminants requires specialized equipment operated by experienced personnel. The EPA, NIOSH, ASTM and other organizations have developed “standard” methods for the collection and analysis of air contaminants, that if performed in accordance with the methods, will produce results that are both accurate and precise. These methods have undergone extensive review and field testing before they are approved for use.
Compliance with regulations, and avoidance of fines for noncompliance, often drive the need for emissions testing. In this situation, quality data that will stand up to the rigorous QA/QC standards of regulators is essential and collection and analysis of samples is best left to experienced professionals.
Frequently emissions test data are used for engineering design purposes. In these cases, accurate data is essential for ensuring appropriate process modifications and/or correct air pollution control device design.
In some cases, when data is intended to provide a “ballpark” estimate, samples collected by in-house staff may be adequate. In these instances, Air Measurement will work with you to provide sample collection equipment and media necessary so that your in-house staff can collect the desired samples.