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Frequently Asked Questions


 01  How do I choose a smoke school provider?

You need a smoke school provider who follows the requirements of 40 CFR 60 and are audited by the EPA, state and local environmental agencies.  You also need a training provider that understands the importance of friendly customer service, such as we do at Whitlow Green Smoke School.


 02   Why is smoke school needed?

Search your permit for opacity, visible emissions, EPA Method 9, and EPA Method 22. If you find these terms then you are required to attend smoke school. Your permit will inform you of potential sources, allowed opacity, and frequency of opacity readings. Federal and state employees are required to evaluate opacity as a part of an inspection to determine compliance with air quality permits and regulations.  If your company is concerned about clean air and pollution control, you need to be trained.  If you are concerned about state or federal inspectors seeing your smokestack, then you need to be trained.  If you are concerned about issues such as job security, environmental complaints to the state inspectors, class action lawsuits, then you need to be certified.


 03   How often is smoke school field training certification required?

Every 6 months you need to be re-certified.


 04  What does Smoke School Consist of?

In most cases Whitlow Green conducts most of our training in one day, except in Texas because of the unique smoke school requirements.  Everyone reports at 8:00 am.  Before testing begins, we have a mini-lecture to teach the basic fundamentals of how to take the smoke school test and how to reach opacity in the field.  Next we teach you the basic fundamentals of how to take the smoke school certification test.  We then show you how to read opacity.  After this, a smoke school practice test is given.  Then we evaluate your performance.  After all of the instructions and practice, we then present the smoke school opacity certification test.  We grade the field test on site and you know if you passed the test.  Once passing the test, you are free to leave or you can attend the classroom. 

 05  What is opacity?

According to Wikipedia, “Opacity is the measure of impenetrability to electromagnetic or other kinds of radiation, especially visible light.”  In Whitlow Green's simplified version, “Opacity is the term used to refer to the blockage of light.” Visible emissions opacity refers to the amount of sunlight blocked by smoke or dust between the observer’s eyeball and the contracting background on the opposite side of the plume.

 06  Is my certificate valid in other states?

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

 07   How do I get certified for Method 22?

EPA requires attendance in a setting such as the EPA Reference Method 9 Classroom Lecture to become familiar with the terminology and the principals of opacity. Certificates for Method 22 are not required. Whitlow Green Smoke School will issue a certificate for attending the Lecture.

 08  What do I do if my observation evaluation is out of compliance?

(1) Notify your operator and plant manager immediately  (2) Get permission to shut down the process and fix the problem  (3) Conduct another evaluation after the problem is corrected

 09  How long does smoke school last?

If you pass on the first run, you should be completed within a 1/2 day. Most of our smoke schools start at 9:30 a.m. and are completed by 12:00 p.m. on the same day. We will continue running tests until everyone has certified or light conditions are no longer favorable. Everyone Passes!

 10   When do I receive my certificates?

Within three weeks of the school date you should receive your certificate(s).

NOTE:  Starting in 2019 all certificates will be sent digitally via email. We will send hard copies upon company request.

 11  How do I schedule a smoke school at or near my plant?

If you are needing to schedule a private school just contact us to set up a date and time. If you have people in or around your area that are needing a school please contact us and we will do our best to create a school location near you! We love to add new places to our schedules!

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