The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new national standards to reduce air pollutants, such as dioxin and lead, emitted from incinerators, cement kilns and lightweight aggregate kilns burning hazardous waste.
EPA is also proposing new rules that would significantly increase the amount of public reporting on lead emissions required by industry.
The tighter hazardous waste restrictions will result in a 70 percent reduction of dioxin and furan emissions, according to agency sources, while metal emissions are to be cut by up to 86 percent. The incinerators and cement kilns controlled under the new standards burn 80 percent of the hazardous waste combusted each year in America.
EPA defended the stricter regulations as important steps to protect public health since dioxin and furans can cause cancer, while lead exposure in children can produce brain and nervous system damage. Adults exposed to lead and other heavy metals such as mercury can also suffer a number of serious health disorders. These toxic substances gradually accumulate in the environment and can lead to long-term health effects.
"About 37 million Americans who live in the same county as a hazardous waste combustion facility will be protected by today's more stringent standards," EPA Administrator Carol Browner said.
In another step to control the public's exposure to lead and expand the right-to-know about toxic chemicals, EPA has proposed greatly reducing the thresholds needed to trigger required reports on lead and lead compound releases.
Currently, facilities are not required to report lead releases to air, water, and land unless they manufacture or process more than 25,000 pounds annually or use more than 10,000 pounds annually. Under the new proposal, the reporting thresholds would be reduced to only 10 pounds per year, and there would also be a substantial increase in the amount of information made available to the public, according to agency sources. It is estimated that change would lead to an increase of 15,000 reports, a 13 percent rise over current figures.
A 45-day comment period on the proposed rule will begin in early August. A copy of the proposal can be found in the Federal Register at www.epa.gov/fedrgstr or by calling (800) 553 0202.