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March 21, 2012 840 Views

Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency finalized new standards for reducing emissions of toxic air pollutants from commercial and industrial boilers, and requires full compliance to these standards by 2014. Most requirements are operational (how often mandatory tune-ups are performed), but others are regulatory (reporting numeric rate of air toxic emissions).

According to EPA estimates, Americans will see $10 to $24 in health benefits for every dollar spent to meet the new standards. They also anticipate a reduction of more than 400,000 worker sick days annually due to the drop in toxic emissions, as compliance to the standards helps reduce medically harmful pollutants in the air.

The standards apply to two groups:

  • Nearly 13,800 boilers and process heaters at refineries, chemical plants, and industrial facilities: These "major source" facilities are known to emit mercury, organic air toxics, and dioxins as their largest pollution sources, at an annual rate of 10 tons of any one toxic to 25 tons of all toxics combined.
  • Nearly 187,000 boilers at universities, hospitals, hotels, and commercial buildings, "area sources" of air toxics. These boilers will be regulated based on generally available control technologies (a less stringent requirement than the original EPA plan), except for those that emit pollutants like mercury or polycyclic organic matter.
Major Source BoilersArea Source Boilers
Clean gas fuel No numeric limitsTune-up every other year No numeric limits Annual tune-up Rule does not cover gas-fired area source boilers.
Coal Numeric emission limits for 5 pollutants No numeric limitsTune-up every other year Numeric limits for 2 pollutants (3 for new boiler)
Biomass New boilers: Numeric emission limit for particulate matterExisting: No numeric emission limits Tune-up every other year
Oil or dirty process gas
Compliance Dates Existing: 3/21/2014 New: Within 15 days after startup Existing: Tune-up required by 3/21/2012. Full compliance by 3/21/2014. New: Compliant at startup

* Existing boilers only (in construction/use prior to June 4, 2010)

2 pollutants: Mercury, carbon monoxide
3 pollutants: Mercury, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter
5 pollutants: Mercury, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, hydrogen chloride, dioxin

Producing automated reports for EPA compliance

You can use Testo’s model 350 Advanced portable emissions analyzers during tune-up and testing, and generate your reports using their compatible software. The software suite consists of three parts: the USB driver so your PC can see the analyzer, Testo easyEmissions software for analyzer setup, real-time measurement, and data downloads, and Testo easyReport, which takes the data and plugs it into Excel for simple, automated reporting.

The basic module of easyReport will log measurement data into Excel. The reporting module (locked by default, and requires registration with Testo for full operation), adds more compliance-reporting functionality.

I’ll be doing a step-by-step walk-through of this software on this blog in the next few weeks. I’ll also talk about any changes to the Clean Air Act, as there’s an ongoing battle in Congress these days to change the standards again.

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