We often hear the following questions.

How do I select an emissions testing firm?
Can my in-house staff collect these samples?
Why does this cost so much?
Why do I need to test?
Who are these clowns anyway?

“How do I select an emissions testing firm?”

Selecting an emissions 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 firm may not be able to make appropriate decisions, which could cause a compliance test to fail or cause your process to operate on stand-by, costing you money, while they get their equipment operating.

To complicate your decision further, each emissions testing project 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 emissions 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
  • Identify of the configuration (horizontal, vertical), type (duct, stack, vent) and size (diameter) of each test location
  • Specify the number and size of available test ports
  • Anticipated gas stream temperature
  • Identify of all safety considerations
  • Specify schedule
  • Identify of any unusual requirements (required safety training, must conclude testing by 4 pm each day)

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 under 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 APCC will work with you to provide sample collection equipment and media necessary so that your in-house staff can collect the desired samples

Why does this cost so much?

APCC provides excellent value for the services we provide. The cost of testing is driven by several factors. Labor, equipment and laboratory costs are the most significant contributors.

All of our project engineers and scientists are degreed professionals who believe in providing technically sound testing and superior client service. The majority of testing programs require two or more people equipped with a variety of specialized equipment.

APCC takes pride in maintaining an extensive equipment inventory that allows us to mobilize resources quickly and responsively. The specialized equipment used for emissions testing is expensive to purchase and expensive to maintain.

Sophisticated analyzers generate much of the data we collect. However, many samples still require laboratory analysis. APCC does not have an in-house lab capable of analyzing all of the samples we collect. We must rely on laboratories to prove many of the necessary analyses. Over the years we have developed working relationships with many laboratories that allow us to purchase analytical services at discount. We understand that laboratory analyses can be expensive and we work hard to minimize these costs.

When you look at the true level-of-effort required to perform a quality air testing program and then compare our fees with the hourly rates demanded by the technician who services your car....APCC represents an excellent value.

APCC works with each and every client to help ensure that the expense we represent provides value to our clients. We understand business pressures to increase productivity and to reduce costs. In many cases, we are able to discover the hidden meanings in emissions testing data that allows our clients to optimize their process and reduce their operating costs.

Why do I need to test?

Historically, the need for emissions testing was driven by regulatory requirements. Facilities were periodically forced to provide compliance testing data to regulators. The expense to generate this type of compliance data was truly an expense that provided no purpose other than to satisfy a regulatory requirement. Much of toady's emissions testing continues to be regulatory driven, but more and more often, emissions testing is being used to optimize production and reduce operating costs by improving efficiency.

Performance optimization of many processes can be achieve with emissions testing. Sophisticated, real-time instrumentation allows us to provide testing results that can be used to efficiently optimize process operations.

In addition, emissions testing can be used for guarantee and acceptance testing of new or modified emissions sources and pollution control devices.

Who are these clowns anyway?

The “clowns” at APCC comprise some of the most experienced and respected emissions testing professionals in the northeastern U.S. APCC was founded by John Powell in 1988 to provide industry with specialized air emissions measurement and control services. Over the years, APCC has worked with hundreds of companies. Today APCC operates out of three locations in New England. Our senior staff average nearly 20 years of emissions testing and environmental sampling experience. This experience allows us to take on difficult projects with confidence.

APCC specializes in one thing....providing our clients with high quality emissions testing and control services. And we take pride in doing this with superior client service!

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