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PA EPA ANNOUNCES SULFUR DIOXIDE, AIR TOXIC ACTIONS
Release Date: 5/17/96
PA EPA ANNOUNCES SULFUR DIOXIDE, AIR TOXIC ACTIONS
FOR RELEASE: FRIDAY, MAY 17, 1996
EPA ANNOUNCES SULFUR DIOXIDE, AIR TOXIC ACTIONS
EPA today announced three final air program actions. In one action, EPA issued a final rule for the printing and publishing industry that will reduce emissions of air toxics, such as methanol, hexane and toluene, by 5200 tons annually from publication rotogravure printers, a 30 percent reduction from current levels, and 2100 tons annually from package-product rotogravure and wide-web flexographic printers, a 40 percent reduction from current levels. The rule, which will affect about 200 printing and publishing facilities nationwide, demonstrates EPA's commitment to making pollution prevention an integral part of regulatory actions whenever possible. The printing and publishing requirements allow for pollution prevention options, such as substitution of non-toxic materials for air toxics, instead of traditional "end-of-pipe" controls. The printing and publishing rule incorporates many principles of the EPA Common Sense Initiative. The Initiative, launched by EPA in 1994, involves a comprehensive examination of six industrial sectors, including printing and publishing, in which the Agency works with industry, environmental and public interest groups and state and local regulators to improve the environment in a cost-effective manner. Today's rule includes flexible compliance options, emphasizes pollution prevention measures, and contains simplified recordkeeping and reporting requirements.
In another action announced today, EPA issued a final rule for the manufacture of polyethylene terephthalate polymers and certain styrene-based thermoplastics that will cut emissions of air toxics, such as styrene and butadiene, by 3880 tons annually, a 20 percent drop from current levels. The industry regulated today produces materials used in the manufacture of such products as soft drink bottles, plastic auto parts, packing materials and plastic toys. Today's rule, which will affect about 66 facilities nationwide, was developed by EPA in partnership with industry and other major stakeholders. The rule contains cost-saving pollution prevention measures that should save new polymer facilities $5 million yearly over what they would have paid if EPA had required traditional command-and-control approaches. Today's announced actions will appear soon in the Federal Register, but the SO2 decision and printing and publishing rule will be computer-accessible immediately through EPA's electronic bulletin board system, the Technology Transfer Network (TTN) at 919-541-5742 (backup number for access problems is 919-541- 5384) under "Recently Signed Rules" on the TTN's Clean Air Act Amendments bulletin board. A fact sheet on the polymer rule will be available immediately on the bulletin board, but the text of the polymer regulation will not be available on the board for about two weeks (For further technical information on the actions, contact Susan Stone on the SO2 decision at 919-541-1146; David Salman on printing and publishing at 919-541-0859; and Robert Rosensteel on polymers at 919-541-5608.)
In the third action, the Agency announced a final decision that, based on the latest scientific evidence, revision of the existing health-
based (primary) national ambient air quality standards(NAAQS) for sulfur dioxide (SO2) is not appropriate at this time. EPA believes the current standards are adequate to protect public health from adverse health effects associated with sustained, low-level exposure to SO2. EPA also believes that the current health standards, in conjunction with the existing secondary (welfare-based) standard, provide substantial protection for most asthmatics against acute, short-term, high-level exposure to SO2. The Agency remains concerned, however, that some asthmatics in very localized situations may be repeatedly exposed to short-term, high SO2 levels of concern while engaged in mild physical activity. Therefore, EPA will propose an innovative, cost-effective program later this year to address any remaining risks to asthmatic individuals in these localized situations. The Clean Air Act requires that EPA review all NAAQS every five years and decide whether revisions are appropriate.The current primary standard measures ambient (atmospheric) air concentrations of SO2 averaged over 24 hours (set at 0.14 parts per million) and over the course of a year (set at 0.030 ppm). The 24-hour standard may not be exceeded more than once annually, and the annual standard can never be exceeded. Today's decision affects only the primary standard. EPA decided in 1993 to retain the secondary standard, which protects things such as farm crops, water bodies and buildings from the effects of air pollution. The secondary standard (0.50 ppm), is measured in ambient air concentrations over a three-hour period and may not be exceeded more than once per year.