Air emissions can have a negative impact on the workplace and surrounding air quality. Common air emissions include contaminated dust, oil mists, acid vapors, volatile organic compounds, and emissions from combustion sources (i.e. boilers). Emission sources are typically classified as one of the following:
- Point Source Air Emissions – Emissions from stationary process stacks or vents (i.e. local ventilation or boiler exhausts)
- Fugitive Air Emission – Emissions that are released into the general working environment or outdoors that are not directed through process vents or stacks (i.e. uncontrolled processes or chemical storage/mixing areas)
Air Emissions Management
In order to ensure all air emissions are managed responsibly it is important to consider the following:
- Have you Identified the location of all air emissions generated from the site?
- Have you Identified the applicable legal requirements for air emissions (as defined by local law and/or by your brand partner)?
- Have you obtained all applicable discharge licenses and/or permits?
- Do you have an emissions testing program in place to ensure compliance with applicable discharge permits and limits?
Air Emissions Inventory
An air emission inventory is an accounting tool that identifies all sources of emissions on-site and tracks the quantity of pollutants that are emitted from each source. When creating an emissions inventory, it should include the following information:
- A list of all point source and/or fugitive emissions.
- Contaminants emitted from each source (i.e. dust or particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, ozone depleting substances).
- The quantity of pollutants emitted from each source. This can be determined through emissions testing or engineering calculations and emissions modelling.
- Annual aggregated (mass emission) quantities of air pollutants should be determined (i.e. kg/year).
Air Emissions Testing
For any air emissions sources that require testing, the testing frequency (i.e. quarterly, annually) and monitored parameters are often defined by local law/permit and/or customer (Brand) requirements. To ensure compliance, companies should:
- Identify the required testing frequency and establish a regular testing schedule to meet these requirements.
- Ensure that any emissions testing is performed in accordance with local law or internationally accepted testing methods.
- Create a documentation control program to maintain air emissions testing records.
Ozone Depleting Substances
Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) are those substances which deplete the ozone layer. ODS widely used in air conditioners and cooling equipment, fire extinguishers, dry cleaning, cleaning solvents, electronic equipment, and agricultural fumigants. ODS include chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). An example of an HCFC is R-22, which is a commonly used refrigerant in air conditioning equipment.
ODS, as their name implies, produce a negative impact on the the earth’s ozone layer, and also have been positively linked to global warming. Most ODS are assigned Ozone Depletion Potential (OPD) and Global Warning Potential (GWP) values that are used to determine the degree of impact an ODS will have on ozone depletion and global warming. Additional information including a list of ODS compounds can be found on the U.S. EPA’s website link provided below.
In order to ensure all ODS are managed responsibly, it is important to maintain the following good practices:
- Maintain an inventory of ODS that are stored and used at the facility (ODS can be included in the facility’s air emissions and/or greenhouse gas inventory)
- Identify and comply with all applicable laws, regulations and permits related to Ozone Depleting Substances, including required phase out plans
- Implement a regular maintenance program for ODS containing equipment in order to prevent leaks
- Adopt a phase out program to progressively reduce the use of ODS on-site
Information on alternatives to ODS can be found on the U.S. EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program website link provided below.
Relevant Higg Index Facility Environment Module (FEM) 3.0 indicators:
Section 6: Air Emissions