Even those of us who don’t live nearby to - or downwind of - an industrial source of air
pollution like the Clairton Coke Works have at some point likely looked at emissions being
belched from a facility and asked, “Is that even permitted?”
You can learn the answer to that question and more at an upcoming smoke reading course.
Never heard of smoke reading? Here’s what you need to know: Smoke readers is a general term applied to people who are trained and certified to recognize and understand visible emissions from sources such as smokestacks, as well as what violations look like, and how to make reports.
“Many are surprised to learn that this is the same training received by Allegheny County Visible Emissions Inspectors,” GASP Executive Director Patrick Campbell said.
GASP’s project manager Sue Seppi, a longtime smoke reader, said attending the training is an excellent way for citizens to take action in their own communities by observing visible emissions at the facilities that are of concern to them.
“Inspectors can’t be at every facility all the time,” she said. “Observations from volunteers who are trained and certified as smoke readers may help increase regulatory scrutiny on those neighborhood industrial plumes.”
Sound like something you or someone you know would be interested in? Then we have good news for you: Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) is covering the cost of the training by Eastern Technical Associates – but please know spots for this opportunity are extremely limited.
The next training is scheduled for late March. Training includes an education day and a field day.
The education day is a live webinar held at 9 a.m. every Monday - participants choose which one works best for them. Participants attend the second session in the field on either March 29 or March 30. The field instruction registration begins at 8 a.m. and consists of multiple hourly field observation periods called runs. When you complete one hourly observation successfully you are done and will receive certification.
“Once your training is complete, the GASP team can pick up from there to get you started with actual observations in your community,” Campbell said.
To attend ETA Visible Emissions training for free through the Allegheny County Health Department, contact firstname.lastname@example.org to register. You can get more information about smoke school on the Eastern Technical Associates website.