EPA Regs and Continuous Emissions Compliance

Posted by Radmin on May 20th, 2019

For worker health and safety in industrial settings, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through federal regulations has mandated requirements for continuous emissions monitoring, known as CEM. To comply with these regulations in their manufacturing and chemical processes, companies now install CEM systems or outsource this function to specialized companies.

CEM systems run the gamut of simple to highly sophisticated. A simple system consists of a probe for collecting samples, a filter, and series of analyzers with readouts. In industrial settings, where combustion is a byproduct of manufacturing and other processes, substances and emissions such as carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide are routinely monitored. In specialized situations hydrogen chloride, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides as well as mercury, airborne particulates and volatile organic compounds are monitored. Levels of these substances are continuous monitored, analyzed, and recorded at least every 15 minutes. Then the amounts of the substances are averaged hourly to make sure levels are not dangerous and in compliance with federal and state allowable levels for health and safety.

Outsource to Third-Party Companies

For companies that don’t want to be involved with the direct measurement and reporting, this function can be outsourced to a third-party company. These companies design and install CEM systems in areas throughout a client’s manufacturing processes. Then through software and internet services, the third-party company monitors and records levels to ensure the manufacturing company is compliant with both federal and state requirements. Some regulations require daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annual reporting, and these third-party companies are experts in working with the government.

Federal and Local Compliance

Besides EPA programs such as the Acid Rain Program, state environmental protection agencies also have local standards. Both the federal EPA and state EPAs regularly check-in with companies to ensure that compliance to CEM standards are being met or exceeded. These government regulators collect, record, and monitor these companies to ensure compliance. If found not in CEM compliance, a company has so many days to provide a solution. If no solution is found, and no improvements made, fines may be levied against the company. In some cases, companies will be shut down while a solution is put in place. Sometimes a company with a number of CEM violations will be shut down permanently.

As part of manufacturing and other processes, the company has CEM detection equipment linked through computers to alert management if there are any issues with the continuous emissions monitoring. Federal and state regulators will be given access to this equipment, or bring in their own equipment to conduct random tests to ensure the monitoring equipment is function properly.

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