Regulatory News

Nationwide & Sustainability Updates

Final Regulations to Implement GHS in Canada Published

On Feb. 11, 2015, Canada published the final Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR), which implement the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System (GHS), an international system for classifying and labeling chemicals. The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) 2015 is based on the new requirements contained in the HPR and Hazardous Products Act, as amended in 2014. It doesn’t replace the original WHMIS 1988, but updates the laws to align as closely as possible with the US version of GHS – Hazard Communication Standard 2012. Although WHMIS 2015 includes new criteria for hazard classification and new requirements for labels and safety data sheets (SDSs), the basic roles and responsibilities for suppliers, employers and workers haven’t changed.

OSHA Proposes Updates to PPE Rules

OSHA has proposed what are expected to be noncontroversial changes to its personal protective equipment (PPE) standards for eye and face protection in all covered industry sectors except agriculture. OSHA’s initiative is part of a multiyear agency undertaking to update consensus standards referenced in its rules. In a March 13 Federal Register notice, the agency proposed to update its PPE standards to conform to the American National Standards Institute’s 2010 consensus standard ANSI Z87.1, Occupational and Educational Personal Eye and Face Protection Devices.

RadTech Supports US EPA’s SmartWay to Encourage Sustainable Shipping Practices

RadTech International North America has become an affiliate of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay program. Whether you have your own shipping vehicles or use a hauler, by integrating SmartWay practices in a facility, members can demonstrate to customers, clients and investors that they are taking responsibility for the emissions associated with moving goods. These emissions contribute to air pollution in a variety of ways, such as carbon, volatile organic compound (VOC) and particulate emissions. Members will be learning more about SmartWay in the near future.

Doreen Monteleone
Doreen M. Monteleone, Ph.D.
Director of Sustainability & EHS Initiatives
RadTech International North America


News from the West Coast

California Legislature Embraces LED

The California State Assembly has put forth a proposal that specifically includes LED lighting. AB 678 (O’Donnell) – Greenhouse Gases: Energy Efficient Ports Program – requires the California Air Resources Board (CARB), in conjunction with the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission, fund energy efficiency upgrades and investments at public ports. The bill specifies that projects eligible for funding include: “Replacement of conventional lighting with light emitting diodes (LED) lighting at the ports.” The bill’s intent is to provide incentives to obtain co-benefit reductions in criteria pollutant and toxic air contaminant emissions in the South Coast region. CARB will be responsible for developing guidelines through the Air Quality Improvement Program.

“Cracking Down” on VOC’s

In a recent committee meeting aimed at producing a white paper on volatile organic compound (VOC) controls, a South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) staff person stated the agency’s intent of “cracking down on VOCs.” There were preliminary talks that nitrogen oxide emission reductions would be the only focus and that further VOC reductions may not be needed. However, the agency now estimates VOC emission reductions ranging from 30 to 100 tons per day to be potentially incorporated in its Air Quality Management Plan (AQMP).

The Preliminary Draft VOC Controls white paper assesses the role of VOCs in forming ozone and PM2.5 (particles with diameters less than 2.5 µm) to “inform policymakers of the most efficient and effective strategies to attain the federal standards that are the subject of the upcoming 2016 AQMP.” According to the paper, ozone (O3) is not emitted directly into the atmosphere; it is formed in the atmosphere by the reaction of VOCs with oxides of nitrogen (NOx) in the presence of sunlight. Subsequent chemical reactions of VOCs in the atmosphere can form surface level ozone pollution and particulate matter. The South Coast Air Basin does not currently meet federal and state standards for PM2.5. Since both ozone and PM2.5 formation are largely dominated by atmospheric reactions, the agency will consider the potential for a gaseous organic compound to contribute to both ozone and PM2.5 levels.

In order to achieve VOC reductions, the SCAQMD plans to: Promote pollution prevention at the source, which would include waste reduction and leak detection. Incentivize super-compliant zero- and near-zero VOC materials, such as UV/EB materials. It is the agency’s position that super-compliant zero and near-zero VOC materials eliminate or drastically reduce emissions during the use of these products.

The agency also is looking at using the concept of reactivity to target specific VOCs, but does not anticipate going through a formal rulemaking process in order to adopt the concept.

New Air Toxics Calculation Triples Risk

California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has issued new guidance on calculating the risk from toxic air contaminants. Even with no change in actual toxic emissions or exposure, the revised calculation results in estimates of health risks to residents that can be three times higher, and in some cases, six times higher than previously estimated. The revised OEHHA guidelines incorporate new studies on the sensitivities of infants and children, as well as new data on breathing rates and time spent at home.

The SCAQMD has announced amendments to several of its rules in order to implement the revisions. Some source categories may potentially need additional controls to meet permitting thresholds under the revised OEHHA Guidelines. In addition, special interim provisions will temporarily allow spray booths to use OEHHA’s previous risk assessment guidelines until the need for source-specific rules are evaluated and proposed. Some facilities (about 20) will be required to implement additional risk reduction measures. There also may be a requirement for facilities to issue public notices about their operation to their neighbors. Various industry representatives have expressed concern that the new guidelines artificially inflate risk numbers when, in reality, emissions are stagnant. They fear the public will interpret any new public notices to mean an increase in toxic emissions.

Ninth Circuit Ruling

In February 2013, Natural Resources Defense Council and Communities for a Better Environment filed a lawsuit [Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., et al. v. US EPA, Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals Case No. 13-70544 (Rule 317)] against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) challenging its approval of South Coast Air Quality Management District Rule 317, Clean Air Act Non-Attainment Fee.

Rule 317 is a local fee rule submitted to address section 185 of the Clean Air Act with respect to the 1-hour ozone standard for anti-backsliding purposes. Rule 317 relies on fees imposed on mobile sources under state law. The EPA finalized approval of Rule 317 as an alternative to the program required by section 185 and determined that the district’s alternative fee-equivalent program is not less stringent than the program required by section 185. Plaintiffs argued that the EPA had exceeded its authority and that section 185 of the Clean Air Act clearly required fees be imposed on stationary sources. In the South Coast, the fee was estimated to be $9,000 per ton of pollutant emitted. The Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the EPA and, thus, the SCAQMD rule stands.

Rita LoofRita Loof
Director of Regional Environmental Affairs
RadTech International North America