Smoke School Frequently Asked Questions

Are there other names for 'smoke school?'+

Yes, smoke school is a generic term for the entire process of becoming certified to conduct EPA Method 9. Below are some common aliases for smoke school:

Visible Emissions Observation Training
Opacity Certification
EPA Method 9 Certification
VEO Training
Smoke Reading School
Opacity Observer Training

How long is EPA Method 9 certification valid in my state?+

6 months. The certification period for Method 9 is set by the EPA at the Federal level. The state you are in does not change the duration of the certification period.

Do certification requirements change from state to state?+

In a couple of instances, yes. In Texas, you must complete a full test run for training before you take your certification test. In Iowa, you must pass the certification test and observe a minimum of 500 readings before you are certified.

Is my certificate valid in another state?+

Your certification is valid in all states regardless of where it was obtained with the exception of Texas. You must be certified in Texas to perform an EPA Method 9 test in Texas.

Has AeroMet’s smoke school completed a Federal audit?+

Yes. We personally requested and successfully completed a Federal Audit.

Is there a lecture requirement in my state?+

Most states adopt Method 9 as it was written by the EPA. The EPA recommends, but does not require, lecture completion. Some states, such as Florida and Texas, require that you review the lecture every 3 years. AeroMet strongly recommends completion of the lecture material at least once every 3 years. Without the lecture, you won’t know the correct procedures to make your observations and they may be invalidated.

How long do I need to observe opacity at my facility?+

Method 9 only prescribes the averaging time of your observations (6 minutes). It does not state the duration of your opacity observations. If you have an air permit, it should state the duration of the test. If it doesn’t, you need to contact the agency that regulates your facility. There is no standard test duration for Method 9 testing.

How often do I read opacity at my facility?+

Method 9 does not state how often you need to read opacity. You should be able to find this requirement in your facility’s air permit. If it’s not in the permit, you must contact the agency that regulates your facility.

What is the opacity limit at my facility?+

Method 9 does not state an opacity limit. It only prescribes how to test to see if you comply with your opacity limit. Most states have statewide opacity limits, but there are also exceptions for certain types of industry. If you facility has an air permit, check to see if it states your opacity limit. If it doesn’t, contact the agency that regulates your facility.

What do I do if my observations indicate our facility is out of compliance?+

Notify the plant manager or operator and have them shut down or fix the process. Excess emissions are usually the sign of a malfunction and need to be corrected quickly. After the process is corrected, retest the source.

How do I get certification for EPA Method 22?+

You don’t. Method 22 does not require certification. However, Method 22 states that you should complete a Method 9 lecture course and attend at least one smoke school before performing a Method 22 test.

How do I get certification for EPA Method 203a, 203b or 203c?+

By successfully completing smoke school. When you receive your EPA Method 9 certification, it also allows you to perform EPA Method 203a, 203b and 203c tests.

How much time will I need at the smoke school field event?+

If you pass on the first run, you should be completed within 1.5 hours. Subsequent runs take less time because everyone has been familiarized with the process. Most of our smoke schools start at 8:30 A.M. and are completed by 12:30 P.M. on the same day. It’s impossible to tell how many runs you will need to pass, but we will continue running until everyone has certified or light conditions are no longer favorable.

How are some smoke schools 2 days long and yours is only ½ day?+

Technology & Accuracy. Not too long ago, every smoke school provider used the same style of smoke generator. They were inaccurate and problematic. We spent eight years developing a better way to make smoke. It’s much faster and more accurate than traditional smoke generators. The end result is the same; our process just takes less time. And we always stay until everyone certifies.

What happens if there is inclement weather?+

We will run in almost any weather conditions except those affecting visibility (heavy snow) or electrical storms. When these events occur, we will generally postpone the test until later that same day. Please show up at the specified start time and the instructor will announce any delays which may occur.

What do I need to bring to smoke school?+
  • Two black or blue ballpoint pens.
  • A clipboard or solid writing surface.
  • Weather-appropriate clothing.
  • Portable Chair (Optional).