Abate Technologies International, Inc.

ATI QUARTERLY
1ST QUARTER 2004

 

 

RECENT WILDFIRES SPARK HEALTH EFFECTS STUDY

Adding extraordinary amounts of air contaminants to an already polluted area, the Southland wildfires caused great health concern to regulators as well as the general public. The South Coast Air Quality Management District reports increased levels of particulate matter and other pollutants such as carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and benzene. The last two compounds are considered toxics. Health effects of such unprecedented ecological disaster could include increases in respiratory symptoms, aggravation of asthma and increased mortality rates but are not fully understood.

The SCAQMD approved $150,000 for a study of the potential health effects resulting from exposure to smoke related pollutants. The situation is unique in that wildfires produce very large amounts of pollution over a relatively short period of time. Therefore, individuals are subjected to high pollution concentrations. The more vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly and those with pre-existing respiratory problems are at highest risk. The Air District advised the public to limit outdoor activities due to the smoke and ash caused by the fires.

District staff sees the situation as “an opportunity to better characterize any adverse effects from smoke and can provide additional information on potential adverse effects that can be used in future fire events to inform the public regarding health hazards and appropriate actions to reduce exposures.”

 

 

GOVERNOR SIGNS EXECUTIVE ORDER FOR REGULATORY REFORM

New California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued an executive order, which directs all agencies to request the return of any proposed regulations not yet fully adopted in order to review for six months. The order stops the processing of new regulations for six months and suspends or postpones effective dates of regulations not yet effective. In addition, regulations which are yet to be adopted, will undergo a reassessment on how businesses are impacted. A report will then be filed with the Legal Affairs Secretary.
Industry representatives have begun to work with the Governor’s staff to develop the process for reducing costly and burdensome regulations and a process to ensure that government agencies are more accountable and cost-effective.

 

 

STATE AIR BOARD APPROVES SOUTH COAST PLAN
The Air Resources Board –a state agency—recently unanimously approves the South Coast Air Quality Management Plan. In addition, the board made a commitment to increase short-range control targets for on and off-road mobile sources and consumer products that lie beyond local jurisdiction.

The last couple of years have seen much criticism of the South Coast Air Quality Management Plan form environmental groups. The scrutiny became formal when environmentalists won a lawsuit filed against SCAQMD for failure to implement adequate control strategies that would guarantee the attainment of clean air standards. SCAQMD has since promulgated and amended several rules, affecting various operations in the South Coast, further regulating industry, in order to address the court’s orders.

District staff projects that the area will fall short of achieving federal standards, even with drastic emission reductions from industry. District staff points to cars and trucks (mobile sources) as the main culprits of the emission problem. Mobile sources are regulated by the state and federal agencies and not by the local air districts. The SCAQMD has been asking both the Environmental Protection Agency and the ARB to further regulate vehicular emissions.

The ARB Board approved a “multi-faceted plan” for Southern California, outlining areas where the ARB, South Coast Air Quality Management District, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can take action to reduce air pollution. The plan focuses on reductions of reactive organic gases and nitrogen oxides and is expected to achieve 80 percent of the needed reductions by the year 2010.

The approved South Coast plan now has reductions of 964 tons per day accounted for in the already adopted measures. From 2003 to 2008, new measures will be adopted to achieve another 225 tons per day in reductions. There are 326 tons per day of emissions, which are yet to be determined long-term measures. These reductions will be achieved through a collaborative effort between the local agency, the state and the federal government.

 

 

NEW REQUIREMENTS PROPOSED FOR ARCHITECTURAL COATINGS

The South Coast Air Quality Management District first adopted Rule 111 (Architectural Coatings) back in 1977. This rule applies to manufacturers, distributors and end-users of architectural coatings. The rule affects materials sold in do-it-yourself home improvements stores and manufacturers are asked to comply with more stringent standards than those in the rest of the country. The last couple of amendments have been followed by extensive litigation from industry groups objecting to the requirements. Industry’s objections pivot around trying to meet consumer performance standards for their materials and claiming that the lower VOC materials do not perform as well as their high-VOC counterparts.

The 1999 Air Quality Management plan for the South Coast District committed to further reductions (approximately 8 tons per day) from architectural coatings and cleanup solvents by 2003. The cleanup solvent portion of these requirements has been addressed through recent changes to Rule 1171 (see ATI Newsletter, 4th Quarter 2003). The newly proposed amendments will address the remaining balance of the committed reductions.

The proposed changes include:

  • The addition and modification of various definitions.
  • Clarification of the conditions under which a coating is subject to the most restrictive VOC standard.
  • Expansion of the scope of the Averaging Compliance Option to include the categories that are proposed for a change of VOC limits.
  • Elimination of the small container exemption for clear wood finishes.

The following table summarizes some of the amendments.

Table 1. Amendments to SCAQMD Rule 1113- Architectural Coatings

Coating Category
Current VOC Limit (grams/liter)
Future VOC Limit (grams/liter)
Effective Date
Waterproofing sealers
250
100
7/1/06
Concrete/masonry sealers
400
100
7/1/06
Stains (other than interior)
250
100
7/1/07
Roof Coatings
250
50
1/1/05
Aluminum Roof Coatings
500
100
1/1/05
Non-flat coatings
150
50
7/1/06
Pigmented lacquers
550
275
1/1/05
Primers/Sealers/Undercoats
200
50
7/1/06
Quick Dry Enamels
250
50
7/1/06

 

 

NEW EPA ADMINISTRATOR CONFIRMED

The U.S. Senate confirmed by a majority (88-8) vote Utah Governor Mike Leavitt to be the next Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. During the confirmation process, Leavitt emphasized his strength of collaborative environmental management, his commitment to air and water quality, land conservation and his dedication to ensuring effective stewardship of natural resources. “My immediate priority will be to visit EPA’s administrative and program offices and meet as many members of our dedicated staff as quickly as I can. I want to hear from them what’s important to the agency and for the public health and environment of our country as I prepare to outline a more detailed vision for the Agency” said Leavitt. He commented that balancing the needs of the environment and the needs of humanity will be a priority.

 

 

WASTE SLUDGE, DUST AND SPENT SOLVENTS COULD BE RECYCLABLE

A proposed change to federal hazardous waste management regulation could significantly increase the recovery of metals, solvents and other usable materials. EPA has had a policy of promoting recycling over land disposal. Certain activities involving hazardous secondary materials will be excluded from the federal hazardous waste regulations. The proposed regulation could facilitate the recycling of over one million tons per year of hazardous waste and could encourage recovery of valuable materials worth an estimated one billion dollars per year. In addition, the changes could result in savings of $178 million per year in waste management and recycling costs. Spent solvents from industrial processes, metal containing sludge and dust collected in air pollution control equipment are among the hazardous wastes targeted for recycling.

EPA anticipates that approximately 1,700 plants nationwide in the following industry categories will be mostly impacted by the proposed changes:

  • Inorganic chemicals
  • Industrial organic chemicals
  • Specialty chemicals
  • Plastic materials and resins
  • Pharmaceutical preparations
  • Nonferrous metals (such as lead)
  • Plating and polishing
  • Printed circuit boards

Four general criteria that determine “legitimate hazardous waste recycling” were added:

  • The secondary material to be recycled must be managed as a valuable commodity;
  • The secondary material must provide a useful contribution to the recycling process or to a product of the recycling process;
  • The recycling process must yield a valuable product or intermediate that is sold or used under specific conditions;
  • The product of the recycling process must not contain significant amounts of hazardous constituents and other things.

The proposed regulation will exempt “materials that are recycled in a continuous process within the same industry” from hazardous waste regulation. Under the new regulation a continuous process is defined as one with no “momentary stoppage.” In addition, the company reclaiming or recovering the material has to be the same one that generated it.

 

 

DIALOGUE ABOUT CHROMATED COPPER ARSENATE-TREATED WOOD

Recent EPA findings point to arsenic exposure from chromated copper arsenate-treated (CCA) lumber as a contributor to increased cancer risk in children. The agency suspects that children playing on and around CCA treated lumber play structures are at higher risk of contracting cancer.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is considering some stains and sealants as potential options to substantially reduce the release of dislogeable and leachable CCA wood. The commission will develop a methodology to evaluate coatings as mitigating agents. The EPA’s Science Advisory Panel will review the methodology and issue general findings and recommendations over the next few months.

 

 

EQUIPMENT REPLACEMENT EXEMPTION FROM NEW SOURCE REVIEW
Effective December 26, 2003, some equipment replacement projects could be excluded from the requirements of EPA’s New Source Review rule. The rule offers an exemption for:
  • Replacement of existing components of process units with components that are identical or functionally equivalent.
  • Activities for which, the capital cost of the replaced components, plus the cost of any associated activity does not exceed 20% of the current replacement value of the process unit.
  • Replacements which, do not alter the basic design parameters of the process unit or cause the unit to exceed any emission limitation or operational limitation that is legally enforceable with respect to that unit or any component of the unit.

A process unit is defined as “any collection of structures and/or equipment that processes, assembles, applies, blends, or otherwise uses material inputs to produce or store an intermediate or a completed product.” Pollution control equipment is not considered part of a process unit, unless it serves a dual function as both process and control equipment. The SCAQMD has not released details to the public on how it envisions the implementation (at a local level) of the federal rule.

 

 

DIESEL ENGINES STILL GETTING REGULATORY ATTENTION
The state is currently considering a couple of regulations, which affect diesel engines. The Air Resources Board proposes changes to the verification procedure, warranty and in-use compliance requirements for diesel engines. The agency is also considering language that would address diesel particulate matter and criteria pollutants from stationary diesel engines operating under interruptible service contracts (ISC).

Verification procedure, warranty and in-use compliance requirements for diesel engines:

The mandatory warranty for verified diesel emission control systems currently includes coverage of damage (to the engine and vehicle or equipment) potentially caused by the control system. ARB staff reports that it is mainly the inclusion of the vehicle or equipment in the warranty coverage that has prevented manufacturers of emission control systems from agreeing to participate in the verification process. The ARB proposes that the mandatory warranty coverage diesel engines not extend to the vehicle or equipment with which control systems are used. The current ARB procedure in regards to the nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions requires that post-control NO2 emissions from an engine using a diesel emission control strategy must not exceed 20 percent of the total baseline (pre-control) NOx emissions by January 1, 2004. Staff now proposes that the effective date for this requirement be changed to January 1, 2007.

Engines operating under interruptible service contracts:

Some engine owners have interruptible service contracts with utility companies. These contracts allow lower electricity prices in exchange for a reduction in electrical demand upon request by the utilities. Provisions to address these engines have been considered by the ARB in the last few months. Detailed definitions and additional requirements were recently added to the Air Toxics Control Measure for engines operating under interruptible service contracts.


The information in this newsletter has been researched and provided to the best of the ATI staff knowledge and ability. Verifying the accuracy of this information is the responsibility of the reader. ATI does not take responsibility for any action, or lack there of, taken by the reader, as a result of obtaining any information published in this newsletter.

 

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