EPA’s New PVC Standards

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is on the move, issuing strong final standards requiring facilities that produce polyvinyl chloride and copolymers (PVC) to reduce harmful air emissions.

Now, a year ago in April (2011) it seems we had this same news about EPA and PVCs.  In fact, EPA had a 74-day public comment period and held two public hearings on the proposal before issuing this final rule.  So, this is the final phase of EPA’s draft-policy process, so either speak now or forever hold your peace.

EPA says that the final standards — announced yesterday, February 14, 2012 — will reduce emissions of air toxics, such as dioxin and vinyl chloride.  Facilities will have the flexibility to choose the most practical and cost-effective control technology or technique to reduce the emissions. Facilities will be required to monitor emissions at certain points in the PVC production process to ensure these standards are met.  Multimedia enforcement is expected.

Currently, there are 17 PVC production facilities throughout the United States, with a majority of these facilities located in Louisiana and Texas. All existing and any new PVC production facilities are covered by the final rule.

PVC production facilities manufacture PVC resins that are used to make a large number of commercial and industrial products at other manufacturing facilities. These products include latex paints, coatings, adhesives, clear plastics, rigid plastics, and flooring.

Polyvinyl chloride, commonly abbreviated PVC, is the third most widely produced plastic, after polyethylene and polypropylene.  It’s durable, cheap, and easily worked. PVC production is expected to exceed 40 million tonnes by 2016.  It can be made softer and more flexible by the addition of plasticizers, the most widely used being phthalates. In this form, it is used in clothing and upholstery, electrical cable insulation, inflatable products and many applications in which it replaces rubber.

Read more in the Advocate: http://theadvocate.com/home/2065296-125/epa-issues-pvc-pollution-rules.html