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Stack Testing and COVID-19

Posted by R&D (Markets) Team USA on

A picture containing industrial smokestacks, industrial chimneys, air pollution, steam, emission, white smoke

A Harvard University research team recently found out that every increase of 0.0001 mg/m3 in the concentration of PM2.5 “dust” is associated with a 15% increase in the COVID-19 death rate.


Because of this correlation between air pollution and the coronavirus pandemic, Aer Sampling urges governments and Environmental Protection Agencies (EPAs) around the world to list Smoke-Stack Testing services as an essential business and exempt such businesses from any lockdowns.


Smoke-Stack Testing, or simply, “Stack Testing”, is conducted to find out the concentration of air pollutants emitted from industrial smoke-stacks (chimneys). Other common names include: “Source Testing” as in Testing of Stationary Sources of Air Pollution; “Isokinetic Sampling”; “Waste or Flue Gas Sampling” etc.


Three main reasons to exempt Stack Testing services from lockdowns

  1. Helps to reduce air pollution and thus COVID-19 infections 

  2. Nature of job has low risk of infection (built-in social distancing)

  3. High economic value


Firstly, the stack testing services industry helps governments enforce compliance with air pollution regulations. Imagine if illegally high levels of PM2.5 "dust" are allowed into the air we breathe, with a corresponding increase in the numbers of COVID-19 infections. Some examples of how stack testing data is used:

    • Calibrate or verify data from Continuous Emission Monitors (CEMS) or used directly to show compliance

    • To design better air pollution control systems (e.g. cyclones, bag filters, scrubbers, electrostatic precipitators etc.)

    • Emission inventories or Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) to help draft or revise air pollution regulations


Secondly, the stack testing services industry has a relatively lower risk of COVID-19 infection than many other industries because of the nature of the job. At any one time, stack testing is usually done by very few people scattered around in highly isolated areas (e.g. on top of a smoke-stack). Furthermore, stack testers usually work outdoors. This makes it easy for the industry to adopt pandemic containment measures like social distancing.


And thirdly, the stack testing services industry supports many high value-added jobs in the economy. It employs many science, technology and engineering (STEM) personnel directly and contributes to the effectiveness of many other allied industries. Some of these high value-added jobs are listed below.

    • Quality Assurance Specialists/Assessors/Auditors

    • Chemists, Chemical Engineers

    • Biologists

    • Laboratory Technicians/Managers

    • Occupational Safety and Health Officers/Executives

    • Air Pollutant Dispersion Modelling Specialists

    • Environmental Impact Assessors/Consultants

    • Equipment Design Engineers/Technologists

    • Industrial Hygienists


Because of the three reasons listed above, Aer Sampling urges governments to exempt Stack Testing services from COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns. It helps reduce the number of people infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus by helping to reduce air pollution. It is also one of the safest and easiest way to avoid damaging the economy too much as we fight the pandemic together.



Xiao Wu MS, Rachel C. Nethery PhD, M. Benjamin Sabath MA, Danielle Braun PhD, Francesca Dominici PhD (Posted April 7, 2020). Exposure to air pollution and COVID-19 mortality in the United States. https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.05.20054502v1 Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (Harvard University), April 7, 2020. Accessed April 8, 2020. -------- Note: This article is constantly being revised as the authors get better or more data. We are using the version posted on April 7, 2020).

LaMotte, Sandee. April 7, 2020. COVID-19 death rate rises in counties with high air pollution, study says – CNN (Cable News Network). https://edition.cnn.com/2020/04/07/health/covid-19-air-pollution-risks-wellness/index.html Retrieved April 8, 2020.

R&D (Markets) Team, Aer Sampling USA
Revision 0 (April 15, 2020)

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