EPA Chemical Regulations: How Do They Affect Businesses?

In the U.S., controlling chemicals that cause air pollution dates back to 1955, when the Air Pollution Act was passed. However, the scope of the act dealt more with researching air pollutants than controlling them. The level of chemical control we’re accustomed to today began with the Clean Air Act of 1963, and became increasingly science-based with the passage of the Air Quality Act in 1967, which improved upon research protocols from the Air Pollution Act.

Since its inception, the Clean Air Act has undergone a series of amendments to increase the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulatory control over hazardous pollutants. Today, the fruition of the act and similar, supporting ones can be seen in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) consolidated List of Lists, which regulates or bans toxic chemicals that are classified as Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs).

How the Regulations Affect Businesses

EPA chemical regulations affect businesses in different ways, but regulations entail four aspects that practically every business that uses industrial chemicals must consider: chemical regulations, chemical bans, government fines, and safer replacement chemicals.

  1. Chemical Regulations

Some chemicals are regulated but not banned. This means that large-scale users can no longer use the chemicals in the former capacity. However, some small-scale users may be able to keep using the chemicals without a hitch, unless the chemicals receive heavier regulation or are banned, both of which are distinct possibilities considering the history of EPA intervention.

  1. Chemical Bans

A banned chemical can’t be used by any entity in any capacity, not even by a small, single location business, such as an auto shop. When banned chemicals are used, it triggers a penalty from the EPA. The swiftness and severity of the penalty depends primarily on the severity of the violation regarding the volume of the banned chemical that’s deployed.

  1. Government Fines

The government can legally close businesses that violate EPA regulations egregiously. However, most companies mend their chemically hazardous ways after being fined for using a banned chemical, or using a regulated chemical in a volume that violates emission caps. The fines are meant to sting, and they’re often large enough to discernibly impact the bottom line.

  1. Replacement Chemicals

EPA chemical bans and regulations don’t appear from out of nowhere. The agency typically announces new additions to its List of Lists — and the level of control the chemicals will receive — at least several months in advance. This gives companies time to replace soon to be controlled chemicals with solutions that are environmentally preferred or environmentally safe.

Need Replacement Chemicals?

If EPA chemical regulations will make it impossible for you to use your current lineup of chemicals in the necessary capacity, Ecolink can replace them with solutions that deliver the same efficacy and are environmentally preferred or environmentally safe. In addition to supplying stock products, we also create custom solutions using toll blending.

To inquire about our products and services, or to place an order, please call us today at (800) 563-1305, or use the contact form on our website. We look forward to helping you find chemical replacements that are safer for your workers and the environment.

NPB Phaseout: The EPA Petitions to Add NPB to the List of HAPs

N propyl bromide (a.k.a. NPB) is an industrial cleaning agent that became a popular replacement for chlorinated cleaning solvents in the latter decades of the 20th Century. More specifically, NPB became a popular drop-in solution that replaced cleaners containing the chemical compound trichloroethylene, which became commercially available in the U.S. in the 1920s.

For many years, NPB cleaners were regarded as safer solutions than their chlorinated counterparts. However, in the past 20 years, the deleterious effects of chronic NPB use on humans and the environment have become widely known, so much so that the push to regulate the use of NPB has culminated in the EPA creating a formal petition to add the controversial cleaning agent to its official list of regulated and banned hazardous air pollutants (HAPs).

Moves Leading Up to the Petition
The EPA isn’t the first organization to publicly recognize the dangers of unfettered NPB use. Many states, municipalities, and safety organizations in the U.S. red flagged the use of NPB long before the EPA drew up a petition in February 2015 to recategorize the compound as an HPA. Below is a list of some of the more notable actions that were taken to communicate the toxicity and dangerous side effects of NPB to companies and organizations prior to the current year

  • In 2003, the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) established usage criteria for NPB, stating that a “time-weighted average threshold limit value for an 8-hour exposure at 10 parts per million (ppm)” was highly recommended for safety.
  • in 2008, the U.S. CDC stated that the use of NPB as a perchloroethylene replacement “may require adjustment and modification of equipment, improved ventilation, and use of personal protective equipment [(PPE)].”
  • In 2013, the U.S. National Toxicology Program conducted a peer-review panel that unanimously recommended NPB solvents to be classified as “reasonably anticipated human carcinogens.”
  • In 2014, the North Carolina Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Division created a Hazard Alert that stated NPB “is not regulated to protect workers, consumers or the environment”.

These moves and others by notable safety organizations undoubtedly spurred the EPA to step up to the plate and begin what appears to be the first phase of an NPB phaseout: a petition to add the cleaning agent to the organization’s list of HAPs. For workers and natural environments that are exposed to NPB, an official NPB phaseout cannot come too quickly. However, for companies and organizations that use the agent for critical cleaning operations, a phaseout is understandably not as welcome, as it would require them to identify safe replacements for NPB.

Choosing a New Cleaning Solvent
Users of NPB that stay abreast of EPA regulations have undoubtedly heard horror stories about what can happen if a dangerous solvent isn’t replaced until it is banned or heavily regulated. Critical cleaning operations can grind to halt if a solvent replacement plan isn’t in place, and that can spell doom for the bottom line of entities whose operations are highly solvent dependant.

However, as horrific as such a situation may seem to corporate brass, it is easy to avoid. By working with a producer of cleaning solutions that have an excellent safety profile for humans and the environment, NPB users can proactively replace their current solvents with ones that won’t be scrutinized by the EPA, and will thus avoid subjection to the impending NPB phaseout.

This is what Ecolink helps companies and organizations do. We have long been aware of the dangers of NPB usage. That is why we proactively created solutions that offer the same efficacy as NPB solvents but have a much better safety profile and broader usage parameters. If you need to prepare for the NPB phaseout, we have the cleaning solutions to help you do it.

For assistance identifying cleaners that can serve as drop-in replacements for NPB products, call us today at (800) 563-1305 to schedule a free consultation, or refer to the contact page on our website. With us working as your trusted provider of industrial-grade cleaning solvents, the NPB phaseout can come and go without affecting any of your business-critical cleaning needs.

Keep Ahead of EPA Regulations with our Solvent Replacement Strategies

epaThe Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been doing an excellent job weeding out hazardous chemical solvents. The EPA discovers potentially harmful cleaning solvents, performs its due diligence through myriad research concerning the chemical cleaning solvent, and if regarded as harmful, will create a notice informing any industrial company using this chemical cleaning solvent must cease and desist no later than the date provided by the EPA. For example, beginning January 1, 2015, companies that practice industrial cleaning will no longer be lawfully allowed to use the chemical solvent HCFC-225, also known as “AK225,” which was a common precision solvent used for high end cleaning. The EPA will provide detailed information explaining the reasons for banning the chemical solvent.

So, what does an industrial organization do if they are currently using the soon to be banned cleaning solvent? Fortunately, the EPA will provide a list of replacement cleaning solvent options that can take the place of what your business has in use. While the switching to a different cleaning solvent might seem like an easy enough task to accomplish, especially when what might appear as a more than enough time period to make the change, industrial businesses might struggle to transition to a different solvent in time, and could find themselves in deep trouble with the EPA. However, there are options that include green initiative companies that help keep industrial businesses ahead of EPA regulations with already discovered, studied, tested, and approved solvent replacement strategies. Ecolink is one such green initiative organization that can help you stay ahead of all EPA regulations that concern your business operations.

You see, Ecolink has in place a brilliant research and development team made up of scientists and experts in the industry that have already spotted hazardous chemical solvents still in use by industrial organizations, and provide eco friendly, green alternative options to which a company can make an easy transition. Ecolink already has solvent replacement strategies in place and ready to go, most times even before the EPA has devised the “white paper” labeling a chemical solvent as banned in the near future. Therefore, if you find that your business has been indirectly targeted in an EPA imposed white paper calling for the complete removal of your cleaning solvent, it is highly recommended that you call on Ecolink for assistance.

An Ecolink professional will help you find an alternative cleaning agent through the company’s meticulously created solvent replacement strategies, as well as educate you on its design. Ecolink can also inform you of new green alternative cleaners well ahead of upcoming changes to EPA regulations, ensuring your business has conformed to EPA mandates way before the notion of panicking could set in. Reach out to Ecolink, and keep ahead of EPA regulations with solvent replacement strategies.

How does the EPA Regulate the Industrial Cleaning Industry?

Epa Cleaning RegulationsThe EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) develops regulations, also known as or called MACT (Maximum Achievable Control Technology) standards, requiring industrial organizations and other entities involved in possibly emitting hazardous toxins into the environment to meet specific emissions limits that are based on emissions levels viewed as safe. In addition, the EPA applies a risk based approach to assess how these technology-based emissions limits are reducing health and environmental risks. Based on this assessment, the EPA may implement additional regulations or stricter standards to address any significant remaining health or environmental risks. The EPA has been instilling regulations to protect people and the environment since the early 1970s.

The EPAs MACT standards are based on the emissions levels that have already been achieved by the best performing similar facilities. This straightforward, performance based approach yields standards that are both reasonable and effective in reducing the toxic emissions of industrial businesses. When developing a MACT standard for a particular source category, the EPA investigates the level of emissions currently being achieved by the best performing similar sources through clean processes, control devices, and work practices, along with other methods. These emissions levels set a guideline, or baseline for the new standard. At a minimum, a MACT standard must achieve, throughout the entire industry, a level of emissions control that is at least equivalent to the baseline. The EPA reserves the right to establish a more stringent standard when the potential for economic, environmental, and public health enhancements are at play.

At present, the EPA focuses efforts on reducing emissions of toxic air pollutants, as well as the VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) found in industrial cleaning products through its MACT emission standards. The EPA will continue to work with industrial businesses, environmental groups, state, local, and tribal agencies, and other interested parties, including Ecolink, to further develop standards that will continue to reduce air toxic emissions even more.

The EPA anticipates that its technology-based approach will continue to prove successful at reducing air toxins found in industrial cleaning products. Additional assistance from organizations like Ecolink that work toward providing eco friendly, green alternative compounds for industrial companies to eliminate air toxins are also expected to directly bolster the EPAs efforts. To identify additional measures beyond the technology standards set forth by the EPA that are needed to protect the public health and the environment from toxic air pollutants found in industrial cleaning agents, contact Ecolink. Ecolink has proven successful in enforcing EPA mandates by introducing safer industrial cleaning products, and helping industrial businesses transition to these eco friendly, green alternative industrial cleaning solutions. Call Ecolink to find out how they can help your industrial business make the switch to a safer cleaning solvent.