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Contact EPA Southern California

Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

Frequent Questions

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Everyday , the staff in our office answer questions from the public on a variety of topics, from complying with EPA programs to environmental health and safety concerns. We reviewed the questions we receive and are providing the following list of answers to some of the most commonly asked questions, with links to additional resources and information.

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How does a generator or transporter of hazardous waste get an EPA Identification Number (RCRA ID Number)?

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) requires individuals who generate or transport hazardous waste, or who operate a facility for recycling, treating, storing, or disposing (TSD) of hazardous waste, to notify EPA or their authorized State waste management agency of their regulated waste activities and obtain a US EPA Identification (ID) Number (also known as a RCRA ID Number). If you are regulated and do not comply with the RCRA notification requirements, you may be subject to civil and criminal penalties.

The Notification of Regulated Waste Activity (EPA Form 8700-12) and associated instructions are designed to help you determine if you are subject to the requirements under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) for notifying EPA or authorized state of your regulated waste activities.

To determine if your location already has been assigned a US EPA Hazardous Waste ID number, look in EPA's Envirofacts Warehouse database by the physical location first (be sure to put in the State you want to search within).

More information on EPA ID numbers is available on EPA Southwest Region's Waste Program website, or contact the EPA Southwest Region RCRA Notifications office at:

U.S. EPA Region 9
RCRA Notifications (WST-6-Tetratech)
75 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 495-8895

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What are the procedures for importing a vehicle, motorcycle or truck into the United States?

Prior to importing a vehicle into the U.S., you will need to become familiar with the applicable EPA requirements. The Automotive Imports Facts Manual will guide you through the necessary steps for importing a vehicle. This document provides a comprehensive look at the vehicle import process. You may also wish to consult the Quick Overview of Vehicle Imports Requirements for an abbreviated discussion of many common import situations. Additionally, you can contact the EPA Imports Team at (734) 214-4100, send e-mail request for assistance to Imports@epa.gov, or FAX requests to (734) 214-4676. More information about importing vehicles and engines into the United States can be found on EPA's website.

Additionally, the California Air Resources Board website provides information about State of California regarding "Buying a Vehicle Out of State."

What do I do if I suspect there is asbestos in my home, workplace, or school?

Asbestos is a mineral fiber that has been used commonly in a variety of building construction materials for insulation and as a fire-retardant. EPA and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission have banned several asbestos products. Manufacturers have also voluntarily limited uses of asbestos. Today, asbestos is most commonly found in older homes, in pipe and furnace insulation materials, asbestos shingles, millboard, textured paints and other coating materials, and floor tiles.

Elevated concentrations of airborne asbestos can occur after asbestos-containing materials are disturbed by cutting, sanding or other remodeling activities. Improper attempts to remove these materials can release asbestos fibers into the air in homes, increasing asbestos levels and endangering people living in those homes. If you think asbestos may be in your home, don't panic. Usually the best thing is to leave asbestos material that is in good condition alone. Generally, material in good condition will not release asbestos fibers and there is no danger unless fibers are released and inhaled into the lungs.

Check material regularly if you suspect it may contain asbestos. Don't touch it, but look for signs of wear or damage such as tears, abrasions, or water damage. Damaged material may release asbestos fibers. This is particularly true if you often disturb it by hitting, rubbing, or handling it, or if it is exposed to extreme vibration or air flow. More information about asbestos, including hiring an asbestos professional, is available on the EPA Southwest Region Web site.

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Who do I call if I see a stormwater problem or someone dumping a pollutant into a stormdrain?

Storm water discharges are generated by precipitation and runoff from land, pavement, building rooftops and other surfaces. Storm water runoff accumulates pollutants such as oil and grease, chemicals, nutrients, metals, and bacteria as it travels across land. Heavy precipitation or snowmelt can also cause sewer overflows which, in turn, may lead to contamination of water sources with untreated human and industrial waste, toxic materials, and other debris. EPA controls storm water and sewer overflow discharges through its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. NPDES provides guidance to municipalities and state and federal permitting authorities on how to meet stormwater pollution control goals as flexibly and cost-effectively as possible.

In California, the NPDES permit program, including stormwater permitting has been delegated to the state. EPA Southwest Region is the permitting authority for Indian lands in California. NPDES General Permits have been issued by EPA for the vast majority of construction sites and industrial facilities in the state which discharge stormwater.

To report illegal dumping contact your local Regional Water Quality Control Board (see the California State Water Control Board website for Regional Board listings), or the municipality where the dumping occurred.

What do I need to know about the quality of the air in my home, workplace or school?

In the last several years, a growing body of scientific evidence has indicated that the air within homes and other buildings can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized cities. Other research indicates that people spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors. Thus, for many people, the risks to health may be greater due to exposure to air pollution indoors than outdoors.

In addition, people who may be exposed to indoor air pollutants for the longest periods of time are often those most susceptible to the effects of indoor air pollution. Such groups include the young, the elderly, and the chronically ill, especially those suffering from respiratory or cardiovascular disease. To learn more about indoor air quality, including radon, carbon monoxide, asthma, and smoke-free homes, check out EPA's indoor air websites: Indoor Air Quality and An Introduction to Indoor Air Quality.

If your concerns about air quality include complaints about outdoor dust, smoke or odors, please see the South Coast Air Quality Management District websitel, or call 1-800-CUT-SMOG (1-800-288-7664). In San Diego, please contact the San Diego Air Pollution Control District citizen's complaint line at (858)586-2650.

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What is mold, how does it affect indoor air quality, and what should I do if I suspect my home, school or office has a mold problem?

Concern about indoor exposure to mold has been increasing as the public becomes aware that exposure to mold can cause a variety of health effects and symptoms, including allergic reactions.

Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any organic substance, as long as moisture and oxygen are present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, foods, and insulation. All molds have the potential to cause health effects by producing allergens that can trigger allergic reactions or even asthma attacks in people allergic to mold. Other molds are known to produce potent toxics and/or irritants.

Potential health concerns are an important reason to prevent mold growth and to remediate/clean up any existing indoor mold growth. When excessive moisture accumulates in buildings or on building materials, mold growth will often occur, particularly if the moisture problem remains undiscovered or unaddressed. While it is impossible to eliminate all molds and mold spores in the indoor environment, mold growth can be controlled indoors by controlling moisture indoors.

For more information and resources on mold, please go to EPA's mold resources webpage. The EPA Southwest Region contact for mold and indoor air is Louise Hill at hill.louise@epa.gov, or 415-947-4192. An additional resource for tenants living in rental units where mold is a problem is the Heath Department of the County in which you live.

How do I properly dispose of household hazardous materials?

Americans generate 1.6 million tons of household hazardous waste per year. The average home can accumulate as much as 100 pounds of household hazardous waste in the basement or garage and in storage closets. When improperly disposed of, household hazardous waste can create a potential risk to people and the environment. The EPA website describes steps that people can take to reduce the amount of household hazardous waste they generate and to ensure that those wastes are safely stored, handled and disposed of.

During the 1980s, many communities started special collection days or permanent collection sites for handling household hazardous waste. On collection days, qualified professionals collect hazardous wastes at a central location to ensure safe waste disposal. Over 3,000 collection programs have been undertaken in the United States. Here's a list of links to local household hazardous waste collection programs:

For more information and resources on household hazardous materials, please see EPA's website.

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How do I get trained and certified as a technician repairing or servicing stationary or automotive air conditioning systems?

The ozone layer acts as a blanket in the stratosphere that protects us from harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Scientists worldwide believe that man-made chemicals such as CFC-12 (also known by the trade name Freon) are rapidly destroying this layer of gas 10 to 30 miles above the earth's surface. Strong UV radiation breaks the CFC-12 molecules apart, releasing chlorine. A single chlorine atom can destroy over one hundred thousand ozone molecules. Ozone loss in the atmosphere is likely to lead to an increase in cataracts and skin cancer, which is now one of the fastest growing forms of cancer, and could weaken the human immune system. In the U.S., one person dies of skin cancer every hour. Agriculture, as well as plant and animal life, may also be dramatically affected.

Technicians who repair or service CFC-12 and HFC-134a motor vehicle air conditioners must be trained and certified by an EPA-approved organization. Training programs must include information on the proper use of equipment, the regulatory requirements, the importance of refrigerant recovery, and the effects of ozone depletion. To be certified, technicians must pass a test demonstrating their knowledge in these areas. A list of approved testing programs is available from the Hotline and the web site listed below.

Follow these EPA websites for more information on the technician certification program:

Or, contact the EPA Stratospheric Hotline at: (800)296-1996 or the EPA Southwest Region contact, Marie Broadwell, as (415)972-3995.


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