Few Changes Proposed in Rule to Address Risks From Ship, Furniture Manufacturers

The Environmental Protection agency plans to require wood furniture manufacturers to upgrade to more efficient spray guns and take steps to limit emissions of formaldehyde to 0.2 ton per year, according to a proposed rule released Dec. 8.

The proposal would make minimal revisions to the national emissions standards for hazardous air pollutants (NESHAP) for wood furniture manufacturing and virtually no changes to the standards for shipbuilding and ship repair.

It fulfills EPA's requirement under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act to review its national emissions standards for hazardous air pollutants to determine if emissions of toxic air pollutants from industrial sources allowed under the rules still pose any health risks to the public. The proposed rule addresses the residual risk review for both the wood furniture manufacturing source category and shipbuilding and ship repair, finding the existing emissions standards for both categories are sufficient to protect public health.

The proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register.

EPA sent the proposed rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review Nov. 8 (34 CRR 1104, 11/15/10).

Rule Would Require New Spray Guns.

Though EPA found the risks of cancer and other health problems for both industries to be largely acceptable, it is proposing new controls for wood furniture manufacturing to minimize the remaining health risks for exposure to toxic pollutants such as formaldehyde.

The proposed rule would require wood furniture manufacturers to use air-assisted airless spray equipment rather than conventional spray guns to minimize emissions when applying coatings. According to EPA, “very few” furniture manufacturers still use conventional spray guns.

Additionally, EPA is proposing a formaldehyde emissions limit of 0.2 ton per year for wood furniture manufacturers. EPA estimates fewer than 10 percent of furniture manufacturers would be required to switch to low- or no-formaldehyde coatings. EPA estimates no additional costs to furniture manufacturers to make the change because the price of low- and no-formaldehyde coatings is comparable to other coatings.

EPA's review did not identify any cost-effective controls, practices, or processes to further reduce health risks from exposure to toxic pollutants under the existing hazardous air pollutant standards for shipbuilding and ship repair.

Review Addresses Startup, Shutdown Ruling.

For both shipbuilding and wood furniture manufacturing, EPA is proposing to remove exemptions in the rules that allowed the facilities to exceed the hazardous air pollutant emissions standards during periods when equipment was starting up, shutting down, or malfunctioning. Instead, EPA is proposing those emissions standards will apply at all times.

EPA said that proposal is consistent with a 2008 U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decision that ruled the exemption “belies the text, history, and structure of Section 112” of the Clean Air Act (Sierra Club v. EPA, 551 F.3d 1019, 68 ERC 1033 (D.C. Cir. 2008); 40 ER 5, 1/2/09).

Reviews Part of Proposed Consent Decree.

EPA agreed to perform the residual risk evaluations for 28 industrial source categories, including wood furniture manufacturing and shipbuilding and ship repair, as part of a proposed consent decree with the Sierra Club filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (Sierra Club v. Jackson, N.D. Cal., No. 09-152, proposed consent decree filed7/6/10; 34 CRR 676, 7/12/10).

The Sierra Club alleged in its lawsuit EPA was several years overdue to perform the residual risk reviews for those industries.

The proposed consent decree has not yet been approved by the district court judge. A status conference on the proposed consent decree was held Nov. 10.

Under Section 112(d)(6) and (f)(2) of the Clean Air Act, EPA is required to review its hazardous air pollutant standards eight years after they are promulgated to determine if the existing standards are sufficient to protect public health--a process known as residual risk evaluation. The agency is required to propose revised standards or issue a formal finding that no revisions are necessary.

EPA issued the hazardous air pollutant standards for wood furniture manufacturing at 40 C.F.R. Part 63, subpart JJ, in 1995 (60 Fed. Reg. 62,930).

The agency also issued the hazardous air pollutant emissions standards for shipbuilding and ship repair operations at 40 C.F.R. Part 63, Subpart II, in 1995 (60 Fed. Reg. 64,330).

EPA will accept comments on the proposed rule for 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register. Comments may be made at http://www.regulations.gov and should reference docket No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2010-0786.

By Andrew Childers


EPA's proposed residual risk and technology review for the national emissions standards for hazardous air pollutants rules for shipbuilding and ship repair and wood furniture manufacturing operations and a related fact sheet are available at http://www.epa.gov/ttn/oarpg/new.html.

For more information, contact J. Kaye Whitfield in EPA's Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards at (919) 541-2509 or whitfield.kaye@epa.gov.

For specific information on the risk modeling methodology, contact Elaine Manning in EPA's Health and Environmental Impacts Division at (919) 541-5499 or manning.elaine@epa.gov.