Path 2

Limited Opportunity: Want to Make a Difference in Local Air Quality? Learn to be a Smoke Reader

We say it all the time: Air pollution impacts us all, but it doesn’t impact us all equally. Those of us who live in frontline communities know all too well how industrial facilities can all-too-often emit malodors that are sometimes accompanied by thick plumes of smoke. 

If you’ve ever looked at emissions spewing from a facility in your neighborhood and thought, “Is that allowed?” then we have two words for you: Smoke readers.

Not familiar with the term? “Smoke Readers” is a general term for volunteers 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 file reports. 

“In fact, this training is the same as received by Allegheny County Visible Emissions Inspectors,” GASP Executive Director Rachel Filippini said. 

Our project manager Sue Seppi is a longtime smoke reader and said it’s an excellent way for citizens to take action in their own communities by reading visible emissions at the facilities that are of concern to them.

“Government inspectors can’t be at every facility at all times so readings by volunteers can increase regulatory scrutiny on polluters,” she said.

Interested? Then we have good news for you: The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) is covering the cost of the training put on by Eastern Technical Associates. Please know that spots for this opportunity are extremely limited. The GASP program can pick up from there to get you started with actual observations in your community. The next two-day training is scheduled for next month.

The first session is a webinar that kicks off at 9 a.m. March 29. Participants will spend the second session in the field on either March 31 or April 1. The field instruction registration begins at 8 a.m. and consists of multiple hourly field observation periods called runs. Complete one hourly observation successfully and you are done and will receive certification.

You can get more details on the Eastern Technical Associates website or email for details. 

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  1. carol bozic-heckman says:

    If I could do the “fielding” from my balcony and not have to leave home, I’d sign up for both sessions.

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