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ASTM Air Quality Committee approves standard on plume opacity.

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June 24, 2010 - Developed by Subcommittee D22.03 on Ambient Atmospheres and Source Emissions, ASTM D7520, Test Method for Determining the Opacity of a Plume in the Outdoor Ambient Atmosphere, allows use of digital still cameras and software to determine plume opacity while also providing digital image of plume and its surrounding environment.

ASTM Air Quality Committee Approves New Standard on Plume Opacity

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ASTM International
100 Barr Harbor Dr., Box C700
West Conshohocken, PA, 19428-2959

Press release date: June 22, 2010

W. CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa., -Air permits from regulatory agencies, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), often require the measurement of a plume's opacity as the plume is emitted from a stationary point source (for example, smokestacks) in the outdoor ambient environment. While such opacity is often visually measured by human observers as "certified smoke readers," an opacity measurement method using digital photography is now available as a new ASTM International standard.

ASTM D7520, Test Method for Determining the Opacity of a Plume in the Outdoor Ambient Atmosphere, was developed by Subcommittee D22.03 on Ambient Atmospheres and Source Emissions, part of ASTM International Committee D22 on Air Quality.

"This is a great story about how innovative technologies and techniques are developed with Department of Defense-supported research and they result in the development of new methods like ASTM D7520. The development of this new method to determine plume opacity with low-cost digital still cameras was initially described in peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings and is now an approved ASTM standard to assist USEPA in improving air quality at lower cost and with less subjectivity," says Mark J. Rood, Ph.D., Ivan Racheff Professor of Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois, and a D22 member.

"Currently, industry/government facilities and USEPA use human observers to quantify the opacity of plumes with USEPA Method 9," says Rood. "This new method allows the use of digital cameras and software to determine plume opacity while also providing a digital image of the plume and its surrounding environment to improve our ability to report plume opacities for regulatory purposes."

To purchase ASTM standards, visit and search by the standard designation number, or contact ASTM Customer Relations (phone: 610-832-9585; ASTM International welcomes and encourages participation in the development of its standards. For more information on becoming an ASTM member, visit

ASTM International is one of the largest international standards development and delivery systems in the world. ASTM International meets the World Trade Organization (WTO) principles for the development of international standards: coherence, consensus, development dimension, effectiveness, impartiality, openness, relevance and transparency. ASTM standards are accepted and used in research and development, product testing, quality systems and commercial transactions.

View this release on the ASTM Web site at

ASTM Committee D22 Next Meeting: Oct. 10-13, October Committee Week, San Antonio, Texas

Technical Contact: Dr. Mark J. Rood, University of Illinois, Urbana, Ill.; Phone: 217-333-6963;

ASTM Staff Contact: George Luciw, Phone: 610-832-9710;

ASTM PR Contact: Barbara Schindler, Phone: 610-832-9603;
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