Breathe Easy With Environmental Controls
IN 1967, THE ENVIRONMENTAL Protection Agency (EPA) issued the Clean Air Act (CAA). Twenty-three years later, the Act was amended, requiring the EPA to set national ambient air quality standards; six Titles were added, including primary standards (to protect public health) and secondary standards (to protect public welfare). Today, most packaging plants that print, laminate, or coat with solvent-based inks and coatings are subject to various levels of these air regulations.
One potential area of concern for packagers is using hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), says Steven Rach, senior account executive at MEGTEC Systems. He explains regulations, referred to as Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT), were issued and in 1996, the EPA promulgated a Printing MACT, which requires a minimum of 95 percent overall control of both the capture of HAPs from the process and their destruction. According to Rach, the EPA is currently working on a very similar MACT for paper and other web coatings (POWC). “The primary difference between the two rules is the POWC MACT requires over 98 percent overall control only for new lines. Therefore, if a packaging company did not opt their coaters into the Printing MACT, they may be facing a higher level of HAP reduction for the new line [per the POWC MACT].”
The EPA has long been concerned about emission control systems’ ability to continue meeting the required compliance levels after initial tests are performed. To keep companies in check, the EPA Emission Measurement Center is developing monitoring protocol, which will require companies to verify continued compliance and record the data. This will provide authorities assurance that installed systems are working properly. Companies considered major sources of emissions (or which fall under a MACT rule) will be required to develop and maintain a compliance-monitoring schedule.
Keeping silicone under control
Whether in pressure-sensitive materials or on coating lines, silicone shows up in many printers’ press rooms. It can enhance a finished product’s attributes or help improve production characteristics. However, silicone does come with its own set of environmental challenges. Scott Shaver, product manager at Catalytic Products, states the basis for these problems stems from the oxidation process. “During operation of the production source, silicones are driven off along with the VOCs,” he says. “Since the air pollution control equipment is installed to destroy the VOCs, any system has to be designed to also process the silicone vapors. During the oxidation process, silicone will convert to silicon dioxide (SiO2). This [SiO2] is often the culprit for failing and/or under-performing air pollution control equipment.”