Use of calibration gases in the U.S. acid rain program


The United States Acid Rain Program continuous emission monitors (CEMs) have been successful in producing quality-assured data 95% of the time, and in meeting a relative accuracy standard of less than or equal to 10.0% at over 99% of the CEMs in the program. One key reason for this high accuracy is the required use of high quality calibration gases in certification and quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) tests. An annual QA audit helps ensure high quality calibration gases. A third party purchases gases from gas vendors. An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) laboratory analyzes the gases and compares the results with the tag value on the cylinder. The results are posted on an EPA website. This allows purchasers of calibration gases to buy gases from vendors producing the most accurate gases. Over time, we believe it also results in better accuracy from all gas vendors. Because of a change in SO2 quantification methodology, SO2 emissions were underreported by approximately 2% between 1989 and 1996. EPA, the National Institute for Standards and Technology and calibration gas vendors collaborated to produce a correction policy and a standard correction form to be used by affected electric utility plants. Calibration gas cylinder tag values were required to be corrected by 1 January, 1997. In the future, it is possible that cleaner, more varied sources will be regulated for greenhouse effect, ozone and toxic emissions control. This will probably require more accurate CEMs, lower calibration gas concentrations, and a broader menu of gas mixtures.

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Received: 23 December 1999 Accepted: 12 December 2000

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Schakenbach, J. Use of calibration gases in the U.S. acid rain program. Accred Qual Assur 6, 297–301 (2001).

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  • Keywords Gas analysis
  • Calibration
  • Acid rain