What is Smoke School?

Why organizations need to attend smoke school training

Opacity training and visible emissions

Smoke School is About Visible Emissions

Smoke school is training and certification to ensure that facilities are compliant with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations. EPA laws require that facilities that produce air pollutants within a specified range perform visible emission observations (VEO) and submit reports to the EPA on a periodic basis.

The employees that perform the VEO readings must be certified every six months through hands-on testing.

For organizations required to perform VEO, it is important to have reliable, accurate readers to ensure compliance, protect the environment, and avoid costly fines.

Compliance Assurance Smoke Schools

The Trusted Experts in Method 9

Compliance Assurance smoke schools are run by opacity experts who train and guide students through the certification process. Our trainers do not give hints or tell students the answers - they teach students how to determine the answers themselves.

What Sets Compliance Assurance Apart from Other Smoke Schools?

Why is CAA the best smoke school
  • We employ the best experts in the industry with a combined 60 years of experience. Our opacity trainers work to make your employees to become skilled readers through the mastering of the concepts behind VEO.
  • Consistent, stable smoke production due to meticulous care of our equipment.
  • Field managers (proctors) are present at every class to ensure student understanding and smooth operation.
  • Certification is completed quickly, in most cases in 1/2 day.
  • Certification proof is provided the day of class to students that registered for the school.
  • After 48 hours, certification proof is available online, 24/7. We are the ONLY smoke school that offers this convenience to our customers.
  • Clients receive email certification reminders to prevent lapse of certification.
  • We are the only company to offer an app to assist with Title V paperwork and coordinate certification.


What are Visible Emissions?

Visible emissions are the smoke you can see coming from many different sources. Visible emissions range from process equipment vents or even dust from construction or mining operations. What is emitted from a stack is referred to as a plume, whether visible or not visible.

What is VEO?

VEO stands for Visible Emissions Observations. VEO readings are performed to ensure that facilities are compliant with EPA air quality regulations. These readings fulfill requirements of Method 9 and Title V.

What is EPA Method 9?

Method 9 is the visual determination of the opacity of emissions from stationary sources. It is the "determination of plume opacity by qualified observers." EPA Source »

What is EPA Method 22?

Method 22 is the determination of the presence or absence of visible emissions. Method 22 is used to look for fugitive emissions, emissions that should not be occurring. Fugitive emissions can be due to structual problems on stacks and other reasons. Method 22 does not require certification, but the EPA states that personnel should attend a Method 9 training before completing a Method 22 test. EPA Source »

What is EPA Title V?

The EPA Title V Operating Permit Program began implementation in 1997 as part of the Clean Air Act of 1990. It was implemented to create a permit system to ensure compliance and standardarization of Clean Air Act requirenments. This single document covered all the emission sources at a facility and the requirements which must be met in order to demonstrate compliance to all the local, state and federal laws applicable to each source

A quick overview of the EPA Title V can be found in this archived EPA document called Clean Air 101 »

How does one perform VEO observations?

A visible emission observation can be made by a qualified observer without the aid of any instruments. Method 9 certifies the accuracy and repeatability of the observer to quantify the level of opacity.

There are forms and the need for some device to make sure the observations are made every 15 seconds; this is a legal document so you need an ink-pen - or you could use the VEO-APP, an APP on your cellphone or tablet to track all your visible emission observations.  To make an Method 9 observation the Method requires certain contextual items, and you can see what needs to be documented by reviewing Section 2 of Method 9.  Method 22 also requires specific documentation, but a quick-check a “look to see” has no such requirement.

How does someone learn how to perform visible emission observations?

By attending a smoke school. You may also hear smoke school referred to as opacity training, or Method 9 or visible emission training. Smoke schools offer two types of training - lecture and certification.

Attendance of lecture classes is typically recommended every 3 years, depending on the jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions require every three years or less and for many, it is a "once and done" requirement.

Field certification for VEO is required every six months and includes hands-on testing to document the statistical accuracy and reliability of the observer.


EPA Document Visible Emissions Field Manual EPA Methods 9 and 22. Read here »

Why Choose Compliance Assurance for your opacity training?

Learn what sets us apart and why you can trust CAA certification techniques More