Jan 31, 2018

Update: U.S. EPA Exempt Volatile Organic Compounds

 PAINT -The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that certain volatile organic compounds (VOC) have been determined to have negligible photochemical reactivity (40 CFR 51.100(s)). As such, these compounds do not have to be counted toward the VOC content of coatings products. Several widely used exempt VOCs include, but are not limited to, acetone, methyl acetate, t-butyl acetate (TBAC), dimethyl carbonate, 2-amino-2-methyl-1-propanol (AMP), and parachlorobenzotrifluoride (PCBTF).

While EPA has exempted these compounds, various states and California Air Districts have to go through a rulemaking to adopt these exemptions (many have a direct reference to the EPA exemption, so the compounds are automatically exempted in many State when EPA exempts). California's South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), Bay Area AQMD, San Diego AQMD, and Sacramento AQMD have not exempted several of these compounds, and recent regulatory activities in these air districts will likely lead to the removal of several exemptions and further restrictions.

The following provides a brief update on several exempt VOC compounds of interest.

T-Butyl Acetate (TBAC)
TBAC is exempt in all states, except for the four California air districts mentioned above. SCAQMD is expected to delete the exemptions for TBAC for Industrial Maintenance and certain Auto Refinish Coatings later in 2018.

 Dimethyl carbonate and AMP
These two compounds are exempt — or will be soon regarding AMP — in all states except the four California air districts mentioned above.

PCBTF is exempt in all states and all California air districts. However, based on a recent National Toxicity Program study, SCAQMD will likely petition the State of California to review the health effects of PCBTF (which may lead to further restrictions including Proposition 65), which will likely lead to changes to South Coast's PCBTF exemption soon. Given the extensive use of PCTBF in the coatings industry, these changes could be very problematic.

ACA tracks VOC exemptions across the United States. ACA will host a member webinar later in 2018, providing an update on exempt VOC compounds under regulations across the country.

Source: PAINT.org

EPA Withdraws the “Once In, Always In” Clean Air Act Policy

In a memorandum dated January 25, 2018, EPA announced it is withdrawing, its 20-year-old "Once In, Always In" (OIAI) Clean Air Act policy. This new EPA guidance allows stationary sources of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) that are classified as "major sources" to limit their HAP emissions to below major source thresholds and thereby be reclassified as "area" sources at any time. This is potentially significant since area sources are subject to less onerous emission requirements than are major sources. The withdrawal of the OIAI Policy is effective immediately and reflects a substantial change to a controversial policy which could have significant impacts on many industrial facilities. All companies which own or operate a major source of HAP emissions should closely review this new EPA guidance document.

General Background of Major Sources of HAPs

The Clean Air Act requires major sources of HAPs to control those emissions to a level meeting maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards. MACT is a type of technology-based emissions standard. MACT requires that a source undertake the maximum degree of reduction in HAP emissions (including a prohibition on such emissions, where achievable) that the EPA determines is achievable for a category of major sources. This determination is based on existing technology, taking into consideration cost and other specific factors.

MACT applies to major sources of HAPs. The term "major source" is defined as a stationary source that emits, or has the potential to emit, 10 tons per year of any HAP, or 25 tons per year or more of any combination of HAPs. Stationary sources with emissions below these thresholds are classified as "area sources" and generally do not need to meet MACT emission limitations.

The 1995 OIAI Policy

The OIAI Policy was issued by EPA in 1995. See "Potential to Emit for MACT Standards-Guidance on Timing Issues," John Seitz, Director, Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, U.S. EPA (May 16, 1995). Under the OIAI Policy, major sources of HAPs were allowed to limit their emissions, so as to become an area source, only before the "first compliance date" of [a MACT] standard. The "first compliance date" is defined as the "first date a source must comply with an emission limitation or other substantive regulatory requirement" in a MACT standard. Thereafter, the OIAI Policy prohibited major sources of HAPs from restricting their emissions to attain area source status and thereby avoid being subject to the MACT. In other words, once a source became subject to a MACT standard, that source was always subject to MACT – i.e., once in, always in. The source could not thereafter choose to voluntarily lower its emissions so as to become an area source (and thereby shed MACT requirements).

The OIAI Policy proved to be quite controversial. In 2003, EPA proposed rules that would have altered the legal interpretation of the Clean Air Act which underlies the OIAI Policy. See 68 Fed. Reg. 26,249 (May 15, 2003). That proposal was never finalized. In 2007, EPA more directly proposed a rule to replace the 1995 OIAI Policy. However, EPA again failed to take final action on the proposal, though it was never withdrawn.

As part of its deregulatory agenda, the Trump Administration solicited input from industry as to regulations which were impeding economic development in the United States. Various industry groups and the U.S. Department of Commerce had identified the 1995 OIAI Policy as being such a regulation. EPA's January 25, 2018 memorandum was issued in partial response to those concerns and appears to bring a final conclusion to the similar, earlier proposals under the Bush Administration.

The New Policy

EPA's recent memorandum concludes that the 1995 OIAI Policy is not supported by the language of the Clean Air Act. EPA found that Congress did not place any temporal limitations on when an industrial facility can restrict its emissions so as to avoid triggering major source MACT obligations. As such, EPA had no authority to impose a time limitation on when sources could accept HAP emission restrictions to become area sources.

Based upon this legal predicate, EPA's new policy directs that a major source of HAP emissions previously classified as a major source can accept enforceable restrictions and be reclassified as an area source at any time. This means that an industrial facility which has previously been classified as a "major source" complying with an MACT requirement can now limit its HAP emissions and become an area source. This could have significant impacts on many industrial facilities that are currently subject to MACT requirements. Indeed, sources that are meeting a MACT requirement could very well have HAP emissions low enough to be classified as an area source.

Read More from Michael Best & Friedrich LLP


Jan 22, 2018

250 pediatric care products contain chemicals of concern

(Source hcwh.org ) Many products used in pediatric care still contain chemicals of concern, according to a new analysis of chemicals in over 250 products commonly found in pediatric patient rooms.

Clean Production Action's analysis found 45 percent of the products evaluated contained one or more chemicals of high concern to human health and the environment, even though some suppliers sold comparable products without hazardous chemicals, demonstrating the availability of safer alternatives.

While the analysis shows clear progress, it also highlights the need for more innovation in manufacturing to bring sustainable products to market and enhanced awareness of greener options when available.

The hazardous chemicals highlighted in the report include polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, plasticizers, and other carcinogens and reproductive toxicants listed by California Proposition 65. The analysis found that if hospitals eliminated PVC in pediatric rooms, that would eliminate 75 percent of the chemicals of concern in the products evaluated because PVC tends to contain numerous chemicals of concern. Intravenous, enteral feeding, and respiratory therapy products had the greatest number of products containing chemicals of concern.

Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth have prioritized these chemicals for years and have been working with leading health systems to drive demand and urge manufacturers to bring safer alternatives to market. For example, we have targeted intravenous and enteral feeding products for substitution and have worked with manufacturers to provide lists of medical products that do not contain PVC and hazardous plasticizers. More than 175 Practice Greenhealth hospitals report programs in place to eliminate these chemicals. While progress has been made, there is still room for improvement.

We have targeted chemicals of concern in medical products as well as in the other categories highlighted in the report, including furnishings, cleaning chemicals, and personal care products. According to the latest data, 100 hospitals are purchasing at least 30 percent of their furnishings without PVC and other targeted chemicals, and many of the nation's largest and most influential health systems, like Mayo, Cleveland Clinic, Advocate, Partners, and University Hospitals, have gone well beyond that goal.

To learn more about progress at Dignity Health and Hackensack Meridian Health, join us at CleanMed May 7-9 in San Diego.

Read the report.

xtreme Hurricanes and Wildfires Made 2017 the Most Costly U.S. Disaster Year on Record

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria combined with devastating Western wildfires and other natural catastrophes to make 2017 the most expensive year on record for disasters in the United States, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported. The disasters caused $306 billion in total damage in 2017, with 16 events that caused more than $1 billion in damage each. The bulk of the damage, at $265 billion, came from hurricanes.

The Washington Post [Author: Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis]

What’s New in WISER 5.1

WISER, or Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders, is a system designed to assist emergency responders in hazardous material incidents. WISER provides a wide range of information on hazardous substances, including substance identification support, physical characteristics, human health information, and containment and suppression advice. WISER is available as a standalone application on Microsoft Windows PCs, Apple's iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch), Google Android devices, and BlackBerry devices (internet connectivity required). As of January 2, 2018, version 5.1 of WISER is available. Take a quick look at the what's included in this release.

WISER 5.1https://wiser.nlm.nih.gov/whats_new_5_1.html

National Academies Report “Dire Need” for Robust Occupational Health Surveillance System

A report released on January 9 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine calls on federal and state agencies to establish and strengthen the systems for assembling data on work-related injuries, illnesses, and exposure to hazards and then using the information for prevention. The 12-person committee included public health researchers, state officials, as well as FedEx executive Scott Mugno who has been nominated to serve as the assistant secretary of labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The Pump Handle [Author: Celeste Monforton]

Jan 19, 2018

OSHA fines to go up January 3rd. Now $12,934 for just a posting violation

(Via JJKeller) OSHA, along with other Department of Labor agencies, will see an increase in penalties beginning in January 2018. The Department of Labor published its final rule revising civil monetary penalties assessed or enforced in the regulations for 2018. The Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvement Act of 2015 requires the Department to adjust its assessed penalty levels no later than January 15 of each year.

OSHA's adjusted penalties after January 2, 2018, are shown in the following table.

RegulationType of violationPenalty amounts prior to Jan. 2, 2018Penalty amounts after Jan. 2, 2018
1903.15(d)(1)Willful violation, minimum$9,054$9,239
1903.15(d)(1)Willful violation, maximum$126,749$129,336
1903.15(d)(2)Repeated violation$126,749$129,336
1903.15(d)(3)Serious violation$12,675$12,934
1903.15(d)(4)Other-than-serious violation$12,675$12,934
1903.15(d)(5)Failure to correct violation$12,675$12,934
1903.15(d)(6)Posting requirement violation$12,675$12,934

via https://www.jjkeller.com/learn/news/012018/OSHA-fines-to-go-up-January-3rd

Free EPA Watershed Academy Webcast: Using the Surface Water Toolbox

Join EPA for a February 8, 2018 (1:00-3:00 PM EST) Webcast on the new Surface Water Toolbox developed by the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Surface Water Toolbox is a user friendly, downloadable tool for water managers to estimate a wide variety of streamflow statistics. This tool can be downloaded from https://water.usgs.gov/osw/swtoolbox/ and enables users to:
  • Estimate critical flow statistics such as 7Q10 for gaged and un-gaged streams;
  • Use a variety of statistic tests to evaluate emerging trends and identify anomalies.

Webcast participants are eligible to receive a certificate for their attendance. The Webcast presentations are posted in advance at http://www.epa.gov/watershedacademy/watershed-academy-webcast-seminars and participants are encouraged to download them prior to the Webcast.


Julie Kiang, Supervisory Hydrologist, U.S. Geological Survey
Julie Kiang is Chief of the Analysis and Prediction Branch of the Water Mission Area at the U.S. Geological Survey. Her group is involved in development and testing of methods for estimating flow statistics and hydrologic time series, understanding and predicting changing hydrology, and quantifying uncertainty in hydrologic observations and model results.

Brian Nickel, Environmental Engineer, Water Protection Division, Region 10, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Brian Nickel is an NPDES permit writer with EPA Region 10, in Seattle, WA. He has 14 years of experience writing water quality-based permits for the Region's direct implementation of the NPDES program in Idaho and on Tribal land in the other Region 10 states.

Jenny Molloy, Lead Environmental Protection Specialist, Water Permits Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Jenny Molloy has 25 years of experience in state and federal Clean Water Act programs, including NPDES permitting for stormwater, CAFOs, aquaculture, and other discharges. 

Please click here to register for the event

Jan 17, 2018

Mine Safety Management Roundtable

The Department of Safety and Professional Services Mine Safety Program has scheduled a Mine Safety Management Roundtable for February 22, 2018 at the Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells.

Representatives from MSHA, DSPS and the industry will be providing presentations on Mine Safety topics. The cost is $35 per attendee.

Please use the following link to register http://MineSafety.wi.gov , scroll to the bottom of the page, click on Continue to Register for a Mine Safety Class and from the drop-down menu on Type of Training Requesting: select MANAGEMENT ROUNDTABLE

Jan 8, 2018

EPA Denies Petition Seeking Regulation of CAFOs under the Clean Air Act via @michaelbestlaw

Michael Best & Friedrich LLP - In the closing days of 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) denied a petition from environmental and animal rights groups calling for EPA to list large farms as "stationary sources" under the Clean Air Act (CAA) and implement stricter controls on air emissions.

In a December letter, EPA Administrator E. Scott Pruitt announced that his agency would deny a petition lodged in 2009 by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and other environmental and citizen groups. Among other requests, the petitioners asked EPA to include concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) as a category of stationary sources listed under section 111 of the CAA. Listing CAFOs as a category of source would have set in motion a regulatory process in which EPA would have been required to develop new source performance standards (NSPS) applicable to new or modified CAFOs and state-implemented "emissions guidelines" for existing CAFOs.

Federal law provides interested persons the right to petition agencies to engage in rulemaking. In their petition, the groups specifically asked EPA to:

  • Find that hydrogen sulfide and ammonia constitute air pollution that endangers U.S. public health or welfare;
  • Announce the EPA Administrator's judgment that emissions of methane, nitrous oxide, hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, volatile organic compounds, and particulate matter contribute significantly to air pollution that is reasonably anticipated to endanger public health and welfare;
  • List CAFOs as a category of stationary sources pursuant to CAA section 111; and
  • Promulgate standards of performance for air emissions of methane, nitrous oxide, hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, volatile organic compounds, and particulate matter from new and existing CAFOs under CAA sections 111(b) and 111(d).

While EPA denied the groups' petition, it did not decide whether CAFOs should or should not be listed as a category of source under section 111. Instead, EPA elected to stay the course on its current approach to regulating CAFO emissions, leaving a listing decision for another day. In his letter, Administrator Pruitt wrote that the EPA's current strategy for addressing CAFO air emissions includes additional studies of air emissions from CAFOs, developing improved emissions estimation methodologies, and gathering more information on the magnitude of CAFO air emissions and control technologies before honing in on a regulatory response.

Read full at: Michael Best & Friedrich LLP 

Jan 5, 2018

CDC plans session on ‘preparing for the unthinkable’: Public Health Response to a Nuclear Detonation

CDC's Public Health Grand Rounds Presents: "Public Health Response to a Nuclear Detonation"

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 at 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. (ET)

The titles of several of the talks that will make up the session are enough to give one pause, including "Preparing for the Unthinkable," and "Roadmap to Radiation Preparedness." Equally unsettling is the image of a nuclear mushroom cloud on the webpage advertising the event.

"While a nuclear detonation is unlikely, it would have devastating results and there would be a limited time to take critical protection steps," the agency said. "Despite the fear surrounding such an event, planning and preparation can lessen deaths and illness."

"For instance, most people don't realize that sheltering in place for at least 24 hours is crucial to saving lives and reducing exposure to radiation. While federal, state and local agencies will lead the immediate response efforts, public health will play a key role in responding."

The event will be webcast live from the CDC headquarters in Atlanta, and the will be posted on the grand rounds archive page a few days later that week.

Read full here: