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EPA Issues Standard For Dyeing And Finishing Operations

James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a national emissions standard regulating what it believes are hazardous air pollutants from textile dyeing and finishing operations. The regulation will require finishing dyeing and finishing operations to reduce their hazardous emissions to the lowest achievable levels possible with control technology. The agency says the standard is designed to reduce hazardous pollutant emissions by 4,100 tons per year or about 60% from baseline emissions. The regulation will become effective as soon as it is published in the Federal Register.

Listed as hazardous pollutants (HAP) are toluene, methyl ethyl ketone, methanol, xylenes, methyl isobutyl, ketone, methylene chloride, trichloroethylene, n-hexane, glycol ethers and formaldehyde. EPA says there are approximately 135 major source facilities in the printing, coating and dyeing of fabrics that use these chemicals. Exposure to these substances has been demonstrated to cause adverse health effects including irritation of eyes, lungs and mucous membranes, effects on the central nervous system and liver damage. Methylene chloride and trichloroethylene are suspected to be carcinogens.

While the chemicals are considered hazardous, EPA says it does not at this time have sufficient data to determine the extent of the threat the chemicals pose to the populations surrounding facilities where they are being used.

The rule applies to anyone who owns or operates a fabric or other textile coating, printing, slashing, dyeing or finishing operation as long as some part of the operation results in the emission of the hazardous pollutants.

A preview of the standard, prior to its publication in the federal register, is available on an EPA website: http://www.epa.gov/ttn/oarpg/t3/meta/m27101.html.

  April 2003