ARB Rules to Cut Cancer Risk from Smelters, Metal Processors
For immediate release
SACRAMENTO – The Air Resources Board (ARB) has approved regulations that will require smelters, foundries and other metal processing facilities to reduce emissions of dust-like particles that contain cadmium, arsenic, nickel and lead, reducing their cancer risk by 54 percent.
The action was taken during the Board's monthly public hearing in Sacramento.
The regulations will affect about 110 facilities in California, 80 percent of which are in the South Coast Air Basin and some of which are already equipped with pollution controls that will help meet the rules. Another 180 facilities are expected to be exempt from the new regulation because their emissions are very low, either because they process less than one ton of material per year or because they recycle more pure metals that contain very low levels of the cancer-causing compounds.
The ARB regulations will go into effect after they are adopted in enforceable form by local air pollution control districts, which is expected to take about three years.
The rules will require uncontrolled smelters and foundries to reduce emissions by an average 95 percent, usually through the use of a baghouse to contain dust-like particles to which these compounds attach themselves. Some large metal processing facilities, however, are already equipped with this technology to meet other air quality rules. As a result, the ARB rule is credited with reducing less overall emissions, ranging from 11 percent for arsenic to 70 percent for cadmium.
These compounds are often added to non-ferrous metals, such as aluminum and brass, to improve their appearance or durability. They are released into the air when the materials are reheated during recycling, often attaching themselves to particles in the exhaust stream of the facility. These compounds also are contained on particulates that blow from dustpiles in these facilities.
The rule is expected to increase costs by about one percent per year, ranging from $500 to $50,000, depending on the size of the facility, with a median cost of about $10,000 per year.
The ARB staff noted that low-cost financing is available for small businesses that must comply with the rule, including loan guarantees through the Air Quality Assistance Fund, administered by the South Coast Air Quality Management District, and low-interest bonds issued by the state Pollution Control Financing Authority.
Statewide emissions from 280 metal processing facilities in California are 2,000 pounds per year of cadmium, 480 pounds per year of arsenic and 2,100 pounds of nickel. The emissions are estimated to increase the potential cancer risk by 102 cases over 70 years, which will be reduced by 54 percent by the new ARB rule.