How to Crush Stack Testing Compliance Goals While Prioritizing Safety

August 15, 2022

By: Blake Ericson

Safety Comes First

Safety is top priority in any stack testing program since the work can be extremely demanding and each site location presents hazards and situations your testing team must be aware of. Testers work in all environments and weather conditions in order to successfully complete testing requirements, sometimes even at several hundred feet in the air. It takes a tremendous amount of effort, technical ability, and physical strength to get emissions data for compliance and engineering testing. The numbers don’t matter if teams are not getting home safely. A dedicated focus on safety is how to start knocking out your compliance objectives.

Keeping Up With Emerging Technologies

The beauty of the stack testing industry is that it is changing and fluid. There are constant modifications to technology, methods, and pollution controls that keep it interesting. Although compliance is usually the main concern of most sites, testing can also assist with performance guarantees, audits, periodic monitoring, engineering, and emission factor development. The tests done outside of formal compliance testing allow sites to understand the unit, optimize, and potentially extend its life cycle. It’s imperative that any contracted firm helps you understand your testing needs from start to finish. Knowing the methods, process, and reporting requirements are just as important as knowing how to stack test. There is a lot that goes into testing that is not often seen.

Introducing Advanced FTIR Technologies

Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) gives clients real-time analysis without having to send samples to a laboratory. In recent years, new developments with this technology have provided the ability to see several compounds in ultra-low (ppb) levels. They are exceptionally useful with benzene, toluene, ethyl-benzene, and xylenes (BTEX), formaldehyde, ethylene oxide, hydrofluoric acid (HF) and hydrochloric acid (HCl) analysis. FTIR is a top-tier detective for what you’re looking for in your stack. It’s not only a great engineering tool, but also an effective method for compliance as it falls under USEPA Method 318, 320, 321 and ASTM standards.

Quality Control and Validation

One of the most important questions to ask when choosing a firm to gather FTIR data is, “Are you validating your data?”

The right stack testing firms will have Quality Assurance Quality Control (QAQC) processes in place. It is something that we, at Montrose, are consistently working with states and the EPA to push forward as a requirement. Without validation, data quality quickly deteriorates. Although an FTIR is labeled as a ‘self-validating instrument’, like any other analyzer, it will generate incorrect data if being used by a poorly trained operator.

As stated previously, field testing is challenging. Equipment falters and breaks, and if the firm that is subcontracted doesn’t fully understand the equipment itself and how it’s quantifying data, FTIR testing becomes an endangerment to the customer.

Why Do We Care?

In any industry, a lot of compounds of interest are difficult to quantitatively measure accurately. We care about lowering detection levels because the landscape is changing. Emission factors developed in the past usually always overestimate actual emissions. Technology is ever-evolving and stack testing is not immune to that need for change. These new technologies allow us to accurately and precisely determine exactly what is coming out of the stack.

Data needs to be precise, validated, and collected by a testing team with experience. Doing so, at the end of the day, will likely lower your end costs. FTIR and other advanced sampling methods bring peace of mind knowing that your stack is within compliance during the day of testing.

Why Montrose?

Safety is our top priority at Montrose. In 2021, Montrose was awarded the Occupational Excellence Award given to companies that have shown exceptional safety, appointed by the National Safety Council. As Montrose employment has grown, our Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR) per 100 employees has gone down. We are proud to mention that our TRIR score was 0.17 in 2021. But we won’t be satisfied until that score gets to zero.

Montrose is at the forefront of FTIR testing. We have a well-trained and dedicated team of chemists and operators who have experience using the instrumentation in all sorts of industries. With our dedicated FTIR division, we also have seasoned and professional stack testing teams all around the globe. No matter the source, we will always have trained and qualified individuals on site running the test.

At Montrose, we will go above and beyond just meeting requirements. Montrose can test just about anything that needs air quality testing with an expert in place that has done hundreds if not thousands of these tests for any source and any industry within your company. Being a larger firm allows us to have more resources and divisions that can support you exclusively. It takes a village to successfully perform a compliance test. At Montrose, our teams are ready to assist you.

Get more insights from Blake Ericson:

Blake Ericson
Business Development Manager
Blake Ericson is a Business Development Manager for Montrose Environmental Group. Mr. Ericson has 6 years of experience in the fields of air quality management, engineering, and regulatory testing; primarily involving FTIR and GC-FTIR technologies. He began as chemist and analyst for Prism Analytical Technologies in February 2015. Since then he has completed >120 individual projects both solo and with teams throughout the United States and internationally. Mr. Ericson received his MBA and BS in Biochemistry from Central Michigan University.
Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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