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With the constant growth in demand for manufactured goods and environmental protections under coordinated assault, there’s never been a more important time for manufacturers to take their part in air pollution seriously.

How to Prevent Industrial Air Pollution in Manufacturing

Scott Huntington | Off The Throttle

With the constant growth in demand for manufactured goods and environmental protections under coordinated assault, there’s never been a more important time for manufacturers to take their part in air pollution seriously.

Industrial manufacturing, along with the construction industry, were the two largest polluters in 2018, both contributing to the second-largest year-over-year increase in air contaminants in two decades.

Some of the most common airborne pollutants generated by manufacturing and other industrial sectors include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) and solid particulate matter (PM). Experts link these and hundreds of other contaminants to severe health problems in humans and wildlife, environmental degradation and contaminated air and water supplies.

Manufacturers must keep our air clean and healthy. The following provides a look at some of the most effective ways to minimize and prevent industrial air pollution emanating from factories.

1. Make the Switch to Clean Energy Sources

Facilities that use coal or natural gas to generate electricity contribute to water and air pollution all over the world. Scientists also link these resources to breathing problems, heart attacks, neurological damage, cancers and other grave and chronic health problems. Paper and concrete manufacturing plants are some of the heaviest users of fossil fuels in manufacturing, but they are far from alone.

Whereas pollutants from coal are responsible for a $74.6billion annual impact on public health in the U.S., clean energy generated from solar and wind contribute no air pollution whatsoever. Biomass and geothermal systems are an acceptable middle-ground — they create some air pollutants, but in vastly lower levels than natural gas — and especially coal-fired plants.

Natural gas is, however, another imperfect but net-positive choice for manufacturers looking for an alternative to more destructive fossil fuels. Natural gas outputs negligible sulfur- and mercury-based pollution.

Additionally, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, for every 10,000 homes  — or the equivalent manufacturing facilities — powered with natural gas, global society stands to eliminate 1,900 tons of nitrogen oxide, 3,900 tons of nitrogen oxide and 5,200 tons of particulates per year that would otherwise enter the air and surrounding environment.

2. Use Technology to Destroy Pollutants at the Source

For cases where it’s not feasible to switch to clean energy immediately, some manufacturers turn to a variety of technologies to destroy air pollution at the source before it enters the earth’s atmosphere. These abatement technologies nullify the most destructive air pollutants, like those mentioned above, and reduce the ecological footprint of manufacturing sites.

Several mechanisms are available that provide this functionality, but not all of them are effective for every pollutant. Some of the relevant technologies include:

Catalytic oxidizers : These machines use intense temperatures and chemical catalysts to render air pollutants down into their constituent compounds, which may then be harmlessly released.

Regenerative thermal oxidizers (RTOs) : With RTOs, factories repurpose industrial waste heat to destroy pollutants within networks of heat exchangers.

Rotary concentrators : Like the name suggests, rotary concentrators rotate at high speed to separate air pollution into a hydrophobic media, where an oxidizer destroys it.

Carbon dioxide is perhaps the best-known air pollutant and contributor to climate change, but there are others — including cadmium, mercury, sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide.

Wet scrubbers are another air pollution mitigation technology to consider, and they deliver the benefit of tackling both gaseous waste, like these, as well as particulate matter before it can enter the atmosphere or the surrounding environment.

3. Choose Non-Toxic Materials to Manufacture Goods

Far too many companies rely on supply chains riddled with raw materials that have the potential to become toxic once released into the air and water. Milling and grinding processes, like those that drive paint and coating operations, release ground-level ozone , VOCs, particulates and heavy metals into the atmosphere, where they impact the health of humans and wildlife.

The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that manufacturers identify raw materials and additives containing chromium, mercury and lead, and replace them with non-hazardous biocide alternatives. Doing so maintains these products’ desirable bacteria-eliminating properties without the risk to health and air quality posed by heavy metals.

Styrene is another material to watch for and eliminate from the supply chain. Atomized styrene can enter the air while fiberglass and plastics are being manufactured or sprayed in place. Instead of risking kidney disease, chronic fatigue and other health problems, manufacturers can substitute low-styrene gels and resins or use materials that rely on ultraviolet curing instead of traditional methods.

Naturally, there will be times when there aren’t any convenient material substitutions to be made. Silica dust, which comes from quartz, is a common and extremely harmful particulate pollutant generated by the manufacture and installation of masonry products, soils, concrete and other construction products.

Training workers to handle essential materials like these , and providing them with adequate protective equipment and exposure plans is essential under OSHA standards as well as common sense.

4. Deploy More Effective Enterprise Planning Techniques

Imbalances between supply and demand have a more direct impact on air pollution than you might expect. When factories are powered up and cranking out products for which there’s little demand, they are contributing to air pollution unnecessarily.

The act of manufacturing products that aren’t needed contributes to air pollution from one end of the product’s life cycle to the other. In the United States, solid waste in landfills is the third-largest contributor to methane emissions. Municipal waste also increases levels of VOCs and other pollutants in the air.

What this means is that manufacturers across the world must find ways to more finely tune the balance between supply and demand and keep unneeded factory activities to a minimum and unwanted products out of the supply chain and distribution networks.

Deloitte points to predictive analytics and machine learning as a way to find this balance. These technologies keep manufacturers, distributors, retailers and customers on the same page with respect to demand for products. They also predict and optimize the best approach to manufacturing activities, production schedules and a host of other supply chain activities so that only essential operations are underway at any given time.

Clean Air Is Good for the Environment and Good for Business

It’s extremely difficult to ignore the importance of eliminating industrial waste, including air pollution. The World Economic Forum says it plainly enough — clean air is good for business. The previously mentioned impact on healthcare costs translates into missed shifts and poor productivity. The world could lose 3.8 billion workdays per year by 2060 if trends continue.

Given all of this, there’s plenty of reason for manufacturers to take air pollution more seriously. Now we know a few ways to do so.

The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of ManufacturingTomorrow

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how to stop pollution in factories

6 Ways to Reduce Factory Pollution

By Julia Davis | August 2, 2022

Industrial waste from factories is inevitable. And the ways factories manage that waste affect the surrounding environment, as well as human health. If not properly disposed of, industrial waste can contaminate soil, air, and water.

But there are points throughout a factory’s lifespan, and its entire production process, where changes can be made to reduce the pollution they produce and ensure proper precautions are in place to protect the environment around them.

1. Building Factories in the Right Place

The best way to reduce pollution in important ecosystems is to keep them from harm’s way in the first place. When new industrial sites are being built, it is important to factor in location and the potential impact the site would have on the surrounding environment. Characteristics such as climate and topography significantly affect how pollutants spread, and these factors also need to be considered. As we continue to build factories and industrial sites, making smart decisions about their locations can help reduce the impacts of the inevitable waste that comes from the factory.


2. Powering Factories with Renewable Energy

Energy consumption is one of the main contributors to factory air pollution. Therefore, factories that require less energy to operate produce less air pollution. A large-scale shift to using renewable energy sources to power factories would result in less pollution over time and could also save factories money in the long run. But the initial investment in greener energy sources is often a hurdle that prevents many factories from making the switch to renewables, even if it makes financial and environmental sense when looking at the bigger picture.

Windmills and solar panels

3. Analyzing Factory Waste

Waste at a recycling facility

Pollution is tied to waste that is created during the production process. But before factories can effectively work on decreasing waste, they need an accurate picture of the waste at hand. By analyzing their waste output, factories can determine the amounts of different types of waste like food waste, chemical waste, glass, paper, and other elements. Once they have a clear picture of where they are making waste, it’s much easier to make processes more efficient by upgrading equipment, reorganizing inventory, and establishing recycling systems for reusing materials at various stages of production.

4. Proper Treatment of Factory Waste

The proper treatment of waste at the end of the production process is key to reducing factory pollution. Waste treatment is defined as the practice of changing the properties of industrial hazardous waste and making it less harmful. These changes can be physical, chemical, or biological. Physical treatments are processes that may change the shape or size of the waste. In contrast, chemical treatments use chemicals to alter the composition of the waste, and biological treatments use organisms to break down waste components into simpler organic matter and biomass. Treating waste in these ways before it leaves the facility allows factories to reduce the volume and toxicity of their waste before disposal.

Man treating waste in a recycling facility

5. Factories Must Run Environmental Impact Assessments

Companies should perform regular environmental impact assessments within their factories to identify potential harmful impacts their waste may have on the natural ecosystem. If harmful impacts are discovered in this assessment, it is the company’s responsibility to take the necessary actions required to address the problem, and correct any negative consequences that have developed.

Men surveying a waste facility

6. Laws and Enforcement Can Help Prevent Factory Waste

Gavel and law books in a courtroom

In addition to implementing these regulations, it is equally important for governmental agencies to take firm action against industries that do not follow pollution protocols and offer significant rewards for companies that operate within guidelines.

Image credits: Factory ( The Ruwais Refinery by Rickmaj is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 ); Windmills and solar panels ( Renewable Energy on the Grid by Kenueone is licensed under CC0 1.0 ); Recycling facility ( African Waste Management Experts Visit Rwanda E-Waste Recycling Facility – Rwanda Green Fund Investment by Rwanda Green Fund is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0 ); Man treating waste ( African Waste Management Experts Visit Rwanda E-Waste Recycling Facility – Rwanda Green Fund Investment by Rwanda Green Fund is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0 ); Men in facility ( Acting Secretary Wolf Tours Marine Terminal Facility (8) by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security); Gavel and books ( Court Gavel – Judge’s Gavel – Courtroom by wp paarz is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 )

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Effective Strategies for Factories to Reduce Air Pollution Levels

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Have you ever wondered what it takes for factories to significantly lower their air pollution levels? As a factory manager or environmental officer, you’re likely already aware of the pressing need to reduce emissions, but finding the most effective strategies can seem like navigating through a dense fog.

This discussion will introduce a toolbox of actionable methods, from embracing clean energy to minimizing emissions at the source. While exploring these strategies, you’ll uncover how measuring progress and fostering transparency with stakeholders can improve air quality and enhance your factory’s reputation.

Embark on this journey to discover how your facility can contribute to a cleaner, healthier environment.

Key Takeaways

  • Implement technology-driven solutions and optimize operations to reduce emissions effectively.
  • Embrace renewable energy sources to minimize emissions at the source and enhance energy efficiency.
  • Engage in continuous monitoring and compliance management to adhere to environmental regulations.
  • Collaborate with experts and invest in R&D for innovative pollution control and sustainable practices.

The Choking Grip of Pollution: How Factories Can Breathe Easier

It would be best if you grasped the magnitude of industrial air pollution’s impact to tackle it effectively. Identifying sources and quantifying emissions allows you to target the most needed reduction efforts.

Implementing precise, technology-driven solutions can significantly reduce pollutants, making factories cleaner and more sustainable.

The Scope of the Problem: Understanding the Impact of Industrial Air Pollution

You must first recognize the variety of air pollutants factories release, which significantly impact both the environment and public health.

Navigating the regulatory landscape presents its compliance challenges, necessitating a strategic approach to meet these standards.

Common Air Pollutants Released by Factories

Factories release a complex cocktail of pollutants into the air, significantly impacting environmental health and human well-being.

  • Particulate Matter (PM): A major contributor to air pollution, causing respiratory issues.
  • Nitrogen Oxides (NOx): Industrial pollution from combustion processes contributing to smog and acid rain.
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): Emitted from solvents and paints, they form ground-level ozone, a critical air pollutant.

Reducing these emissions is crucial for cleaner air.

Environmental and Health Consequences

As we delve into the environmental and health consequences of factory emissions, it’s crucial to understand how these pollutants not only degrade our planet but also pose serious risks to public health.

Reducing air pollution from factories through renewable energy sources and controlling hazardous air pollutants like particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, and heavy metals is pivotal.

Minimizing industrial waste can safeguard human health and improve indoor air quality.

Regulatory Landscape and Compliance Challenges

Navigating the complex regulatory landscape presents significant compliance challenges for industries aiming to reduce air pollution. To empower you, here are three actionable steps:

  • Implement Catalytic Technologies : Catalytic solutions can revolutionize air pollution control in industrial processes.
  • Optimize Industrial Operations : Streamline operations to reduce the pollution footprint.
  • Engage in Continuous Monitoring : Ensure your industrial facilities remain compliant and advance in ways factories can effectively manage emissions.

Each step offers freedom from regulatory constraints, enabling factory owners to comply and thrive, reducing air pollution from industries.

Taking Action: A Toolbox of Effective Strategies

You have the power to significantly reduce factory air pollution by implementing a set of effective strategies .

Embracing clean energy, minimizing emissions at the source, and fostering collaborative solutions are key to making a substantial impact.

These approaches enhance environmental health and improve operational efficiency in the long run.

Embracing Clean Energy

To significantly reduce factory air pollution, consider transitioning to renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and geothermal.

Optimizing energy efficiency in your production processes can decrease emissions and save costs.

Lastly, exploring innovative technologies like carbon capture and storage presents an advanced strategy to mitigate environmental impact.

Transitioning to Renewable Sources (Solar, Wind, Geothermal)

Embracing renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and geothermal is a pivotal strategy for factories aiming to reduce air pollution significantly.

  • Solar Power : Harness the sun’s energy, consume less energy, and cut costs.
  • Wind Energy : Opt for turbines to capture wind, a step towards reducing reliance on natural gas.
  • Geothermal Systems : Utilize earth’s heat, offering a steady power supply and drastically reducing the amount of pollution factories produce.

Optimizing Energy Efficiency in Production Processes

Building on the foundation of incorporating renewable energy sources is crucial for factories aiming to diminish air pollution. Optimizing energy efficiency in production processes emerges as a critical step. Factories can significantly reduce environmental pollution by making processes more efficient and opting for natural energy.

Factories and other industrial operations can explore different ways to reduce pollution and align with the goals of developing countries.

Exploring Innovative Technologies like Carbon Capture and Storage

How can factories significantly cut down on their emissions?

One promising avenue is deploying innovative technologies like carbon capture and storage. These systems trap carbon dioxide and methane, less harmful compounds, before they enter our atmosphere, reducing the substances that absorb radiation from the sun and increase the planet’s temperature.

  • Capture carbon dioxide from industrial activities.
  • Store it safely away from the atmosphere.
  • Contribute to reducing harmful emissions and combating climate change.

Minimizing Emissions at the Source

To minimize emissions at their source effectively, you must consider modernizing your equipment and adopting green processes as foundational steps.

Integrating pollution control devices, such as scrubbers and filters, can significantly reduce pollutants before they enter the environment.

Additionally, utilizing sustainable materials and implementing waste reduction programs are critical for decreasing your factory’s environmental footprint.

Modernizing Equipment and Implementing Green Processes

Upgrading outdated machinery and adopting eco-friendly procedures can significantly slash factory emissions at their origin. Here’s how you can take action:

  • Modernize Equipment : Invest in newer, more efficient technology to reduce the amount of toxic materials and gases released into the environment.
  • Implement Green Processes : Utilize life cycle assessments to identify and minimize emissions during production.
  • Reduce Air Pollution : Focus on greener alternatives that limit the release of pollutants.

Adopting Pollution Control Devices like Scrubbers and Filters

Adopting pollution control devices like scrubbers and filters is critical in directly minimizing factory emissions at their source. These systems significantly reduce air, water, and soil pollution by capturing hazardous gases and particulates, including dioxide and toxic materials.

They’re essential for industrial factories aiming to lower health and environmental risks and reduce water consumption associated with pollution control.

Utilizing Sustainable Materials and Waste Reduction Programs

Implementing sustainable materials and waste reduction programs can significantly lower factory emissions by targeting the problem at its core.

  • Choose Sustainable Materials : Many factories can also build factories with less environmental impact by selecting materials that reduce the damage caused.
  • Analyze Costs and Benefits : Assessing the balance between investing involves risk and the potential for reducing emissions.
  • Implement Waste Reduction : Chemical plants, a major contributor, can minimize the continued damage by adopting waste minimization strategies.

Collaborative Solutions

You’ll find that forging partnerships with industry experts and environmental organizations can significantly amplify your efforts to reduce factory air pollution.

You’re fostering a supportive ecosystem and driving meaningful change by engaging with local communities and advocating for clean air policies.

Investing in research and development for next-generation solutions also ensures you’re at the forefront of innovative practices that can further mitigate emissions.

Partnering with Industry Experts and Environmental Organizations

To effectively reduce factory air pollution, it’s crucial to establish partnerships with industry experts and environmental organizations, leveraging their knowledge and resources for innovative solutions.

  • Transition from fossil fuels, like oil to natural gas, optimizing energy efficiency.
  • Explore nuclear power options, offering cleaner alternatives to traditional energy sources.
  • Implement technological advancements that have been around for centuries, enhancing them for modern environmental challenges.

Engaging with Local Communities and Advocating for Clean Air Policies

Engaging with local communities and advocating for stringent clean air policies are crucial to combating factory air pollution .

Don’t get caught at the end of the production cycle with outdated methods. Collaboration ensures your strategies remain relevant and effective, avoiding penalties.

Investing in Research and Development for Next-Generation Solutions

Investing in research and development (R&D) propels factories towards innovative, next-generation solutions to reduce air pollution significantly.

  • Develop Cleaner Technologies : Focus on creating technologies that emit less pollutants.
  • Enhance Efficiency : Aim for processes that use fewer resources and produce less waste.
  • Adopt Renewable Energy : Shift towards energy sources that don’t contribute to air pollution, enhancing your factory’s sustainability.

These steps ensure you’re at the forefront of environmental stewardship.

Measuring Progress and Inspiring Change

You’ll need to accurately assess your factory’s impact by tracking emissions and monitoring air quality.

Ensuring reporting and transparency with stakeholders bolsters trust and fosters a culture of accountability.

Analyzing case studies of successful sustainable factories can guide your strategy and inspire significant change.

Tracking Emissions and Monitoring Air Quality

Effective emissions tracking and rigorous air quality monitoring are crucial steps in measuring the environmental impact of factories and inspiring industry-wide change. You’re tasked with a significant responsibility, but with the right tools and strategies, you can lead your factory to comply with regulations and become a beacon of environmental stewardship.

To focus your efforts, consider these three actions:

  • Implement Continuous Emission Monitoring Systems (CEMS) : These systems provide real-time pollutant data, allowing immediate adjustments.
  • Adopt Air Quality Monitoring Stations : These stations track ambient air quality around your facility, ensuring community safety.
  • Utilize Predictive Analytics : Leverage data analytics to forecast potential emission spikes, enabling preemptive measures.

Reporting and Transparency with Stakeholders

To measure progress and inspire change, your factory must maintain robust reporting and transparency practices with all stakeholders. By doing so, you’re demonstrating accountability, building trust, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

You should regularly share detailed emissions data, reduction targets, and progress reports. This approach enables stakeholders to see the direct impact of your efforts, encouraging further investment and support in your environmental initiatives.

Moreover, adopting a transparent communication strategy empowers your community and workforce, making them active participants in your sustainability journey. It’s about showing tangible results and setting a benchmark for others in the industry. Remember, transparency isn’t just about sharing successes; it’s also about being open about challenges and how you’re addressing them, thereby inspiring collective action towards cleaner air.

Case Studies: Success Stories of Sustainable Factories

Examining real-world examples, let’s explore how some factories have successfully implemented sustainable practices, significantly reducing their environmental footprint.

  • Renewable Energy Adoption : A textile factory in India switched to solar power for 60% of its energy needs, slashing carbon emissions by 40%. This move cut costs and set a benchmark for the industry, inspiring others to follow suit.
  • Waste Heat Recovery Systems : A steel plant in Sweden installed advanced waste heat recovery systems, utilizing excess heat for district heating. This innovation cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 25%, demonstrating a profitable pathway to sustainability.
  • Closed-loop Water Recycling : In the United States, a beverage manufacturing plant implemented a closed-loop water recycling process, reducing its water consumption by 50%. This approach conserved water and minimized the plant’s overall environmental impact, showcasing how operational efficiency can align with ecological preservation.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. how do local weather patterns influence the effectiveness of air pollution reduction strategies in factories.

Local weather patterns greatly impact how well your factory’s pollution reduction efforts work. For example, high winds can disperse pollutants, while temperature inversions trap them, demanding more adaptive and flexible strategies to ensure effectiveness.

2. Can Implementing Air Pollution Reduction Strategies in Factories Lead to Significant Improvements in Public Health Outcomes in Nearby Communities?

Absolutely, by adopting air pollution reduction strategies, you’re directly contributing to enhanced public health in surrounding communities. It leads to fewer respiratory issues, decreased healthcare costs, and a significant boost in community well-being.

3. What Are the Long-Term Economic Impacts on Factories That Invest Heavily in Cutting-Edge Air Pollution Control Technologies?

When you invest in advanced air pollution control technologies, you’re looking at an initial financial outlay. However, over time, these investments often lead to savings on operational costs and can boost your factory’s competitive edge.

4. How Can Factories Collaborate With Local Governments and Communities to Create More Comprehensive Air Quality Improvement Plans?

You can partner with local governments and communities to draft comprehensive air quality plans by sharing data, funding joint projects, and engaging in public forums. This collaboration ensures everyone’s voice is heard in the solution.

5. Are any successful case studies of Factors in heavily polluted areas that have dramatically reduced their emissions while maintaining or even increasing their production levels?

Yes, some factories have reduced emissions significantly without sacrificing production. They’ve implemented cleaner technologies and energy-efficient processes, showing that you can maintain economic growth while protecting the environment.

Jennifer Yang

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how to stop pollution in factories

Policy Hub » US Federal

Controlling industrial greenhouse gas emissions, at-a-glance.

  • Nearly 30 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from industry, including indirect emissions from the sector’s electricity consumption.
  • Oil and gas production is the largest manmade source of methane in the United States.
  • In January 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order directing federal agencies to review actions taken during the previous administration.

Almost a quarter (23 percent) of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come directly from industrial sources, such as manufacturing, food processing, mining, and construction. These direct emissions result from diverse processes, including the on-site combustion of fossil fuels for heat and power, non-energy use of fossil fuels, and chemical processes used in iron, steel, and cement production.

In addition, industry generates indirect emissions from the centrally generated electricity it consumes. The industrial sector makes up about one quarter of total U.S. electricity sales. If direct and indirect emissions are combined, the industrial sector is the largest emitting sector in the U.S. economy, responsible for 29.6 percent of total emissions.

Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions from industry, 2020

how to stop pollution in factories

Source: Annual Energy Outlook (U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2021)

Reducing Industrial Emissions

There are many ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the industrial sector, including energy efficiency, fuel switching, combined heat and power, use of renewable energy, and the more efficient use and recycling of materials. Many industrial processes have no existing low-emission alternative and will require carbon capture and storage  to reduce emissions over the long term.

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) — chemicals widely used in refrigeration, air conditioning, foam blowing, and other applications — are the fastest-growing greenhouse gases. With a global warming potential thousands of times greater than carbon dioxide, HFCs can have a significant impact on climate change. Given their high emissions rates and relatively short atmospheric lifetimes (compared to carbon dioxide), efforts to reduce HFC emissions in the near term will significantly reduce projected temperature increases over the coming decades.

The American Innovation and Manufacturing Act of 2020 directs EPA to implement an 85-percent phasedown of the production and consumption of regulated HFCs over a 15-year period, manage these HFCs and their substitutes, and facilitate the transition to next-generation technologies. EPA is required to issue regulations for the HFC phasedown within 270 days after enactment (by September 16, 2021).

Oil and Gas Production

Oil and gas production is the United States’ largest manmade source of methane, the second biggest driver of climate change. In the production process, methane can leak unintentionally. It also can be intentionally released or vented to the atmosphere for safety reasons at the wellhead or to reduce pressure from equipment or pipelines.

In January 2021, President Biden issued Executive Order 13990, Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis , directing federal agencies to review actions taken in the last four years. Among many other things, the Executive Order calls on the EPA to consider suspending or revising a 2020 technical amendment to the new source performance standards (NSPS) for the oil and gas sector by September 2021. In addition, the Executive Order calls on EPA to consider proposing regulations for methane and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from existing operations in the oil and gas sector by September 2021.

In June 2021, Congress voted to repeal the 2020 methane rule under the Congressional Review Act and the resolution was signed into law by President Biden. The measure restores the more stringent 2016 methane rule.

In August 2020, EPA issued  two amendments  (i.e., the 2020 methane rule) that effectively rescinded the 2016 oil and gas new source performance standards (NSPS) under Section 111(b) of the Clean Air Act. These amendments removed transmission and storage segments from covered oil and gas source categories, rescinded NSPS applicable to those sources, and rescinded methane-specific requirements for the production and processing segments under Section 111(b) of the Clean Air Act. In the amendments, EPA declared that there are no emissions impacts or potential costs from removing the methane requirements for new, reconstructed, and modified sources in the production and processing segments. The EPA justified the amendments with the claim that the current methane limits are redundant with the NSPS volatile organic compounds (VOCs) requirements in the production and processing segments (e.g., fugitive emissions, pneumatic controllers, pneumatic pumps, and compressors).

Operators new oil and gas wells must now follow the 2016 methane rule, which required them to find and repair leaks and capture natural gas from the completion of hydraulically fractured oil and gas wells. They must also limit emissions from new and modified pneumatic pumps, and from several types of equipment used at natural gas transmission compressor stations, including compressors and pneumatic controllers. When it issued the rule in 2016, EPA estimated it could prevent the emission of 510,000 short tons of methane in 2025 (the equivalent of 11 million metric tons of carbon dioxide) in addition to reducing other harmful air pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs, which are ozone-forming pollutants).

Regardless of the regulatory approach, EPA continues to work with industry and states through its voluntary  Natural Gas STAR  program to reduce methane from existing oil and gas operations.

In addition, Executive Order 13990 would require the Department of Interior to review a 2018 rule that rescinded the 2016 methane emissions rule from wells on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and Indian lands. The 2016 rule placed the first limits on flaring natural gas and increased disclosure requirements. Furthermore, it prohibited venting except in specified circumstances, required pre-drill planning for leak reduction, and increased use of leak-detection technology.

Other Industrial Sources

Other industrial sectors, such as refineries and cement kilns, have been regulated for certain pollutants, including particulate matter (PM), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and dioxides of nitrogen (NOx), since the Clean Air Act became law in 1970.

Section 111 of the act requires the regulation of pollution from new, modified, and reconstructed facilities through the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) program. NSPS are technology-based standards that apply to specific categories of stationary sources. NSPS for pollutants are regularly strengthened by EPA to safeguard human health and the environment as technology advances and new pollution controls become more economically feasible. The Clean Air Act requires EPA to establish New Source Performance Standards for greenhouse gas emissions from all significant emitting subsectors, as clarified in the U.S. Supreme Court case Massachusetts v. EPA .

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Reducing industrial carbon emissions

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A critical challenge in meeting the Paris Agreement’s long-term goal of keeping global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius is to vastly reduce carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) and other greenhouse gas emissions generated by the most energy-intensive industries. According to a recent report by the International Energy Agency, these industries — cement, iron and steel, chemicals — account for about 20 percent of global CO 2 emissions. Emissions from these industries are notoriously difficult to abate because, in addition to emissions associated with energy use, a significant portion of industrial emissions come from the process itself.

For example, in the cement industry, about half the emissions come from the decomposition of limestone into lime and CO 2 . While a shift to zero-carbon energy sources such as solar or wind-powered electricity could lower CO 2 emissions in the power sector, there are no easy substitutes for emissions-intensive industrial processes.

Enter industrial carbon capture and storage ( CCS ). This technology, which extracts point-source carbon emissions and sequesters them underground, has the potential to remove up to 90-99 percent of CO 2 emissions from an industrial facility, including both energy-related and process emissions. And that begs the question: Might CCS alone enable hard-to-abate industries to continue to grow while eliminating nearly all of the CO 2 emissions they generate from the atmosphere?

The answer is an unequivocal yes in a new study in the journal Applied Energy co-authored by researchers at the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change , MIT Energy Initiative, and ExxonMobil .

Using an enhanced version of the MIT Economic Projection and Policy Analysis ( EPPA ) model that represents different industrial CCS technology choices — and assuming that CCS is the only greenhouse gas emissions mitigation option available to hard-to-abate industries — the study assesses the long-term economic and environmental impacts of CCS deployment under a climate policy aimed at capping the rise in average global surface temperature at 2 C above preindustrial levels.

The researchers find that absent industrial CCS deployment, the global costs of implementing the 2 C policy are higher by 12 percent in 2075 and 71 percent in 2100, relative to policy costs with CCS. They conclude that industrial CCS enables continued growth in the production and consumption of energy-intensive goods from hard-to-abate industries, along with dramatic reductions in the CO 2 emissions they generate. Their projections show that as industrial CCS gains traction mid-century, this growth occurs globally as well as within geographical regions (primarily in China, Europe, and the United States) and the cement, iron and steel, and chemical sectors.

“Because it can enable deep reductions in industrial emissions, industrial CCS is an essential mitigation option in the successful implementation of policies aligned with the Paris Agreement’s long-term climate targets,” says Sergey Paltsev , the study’s lead author and a deputy director of the MIT Joint Program and senior research scientist at the MIT Energy Initiative. “As the technology advances, our modeling approach offers decision-makers a pathway for projecting the deployment of industrial CCS across industries and regions.”

But such advances will not take place without substantial, ongoing funding.

“Sustained government policy support across decades will be needed if CCS is to realize its potential to promote the growth of energy-intensive industries and a stable climate,” says Howard Herzog , a co-author of the study and senior research engineer at the MIT Energy Initiative.

The researchers also find that advanced CCS options such as cryogenic carbon capture (CCC), in which extracted CO 2 is cooled to solid form using far less power than conventional coal- and gas-fired CCS technologies, could help expand the use of CCS in industrial settings through further production cost and emissions reductions.

The study was supported by sponsors of the MIT Joint Program and by ExxonMobil through its membership in the MIT Energy Initiative.

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  • Howard Herzog
  • Sergey Paltsev
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  • Greenhouse gases
  • Carbon dioxide
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  • Environment

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Biden Administration Toughens Limits on Deadly Air Pollution

The E.P.A. says the new rule will prevent 4,500 premature deaths annually. Industry leaders are expected to challenge the regulation, saying it will harm the economy.

Industrial material with smokestacks in the distance.

By Lisa Friedman

The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday tightened limits on fine industrial particles, one of the most common and deadliest forms of air pollution, for the first time in a decade.

Business groups immediately objected, saying the new regulation could raise costs and hurt manufacturing jobs across the country. Public health organizations said the pollution rules would save lives and strengthen the economy by reducing hospitalizations and lost workdays.

Fine particulate matter, which can include soot, can come from factories, power plants and other industrial facilities. It can penetrate the lungs and bloodstream and has been linked to serious health effects like asthma and heart and lung disease. Long-term exposure has been associated with premature deaths.

The new rule lowers the annual standard for fine particulate matter to nine micrograms per cubic meter of air, down from the current standard of 12 micrograms. Over the next two years, the E.P.A. will use air sampling to identify areas that do not meet the new standard. States would then have 18 months to develop compliance plans for those areas. By 2032, any that exceed the new standard could face penalties.

“Soot pollution is one of the most dangerous forms of air pollution,” Michael S. Regan, the E.P.A. administrator, said in a call with reporters on Tuesday. “This is truly a game changer for the health and well-being of communities in our country.”

Mr. Regan estimated that the rule would prevent 4,500 premature deaths every year and 290,000 lost workdays because of illness. The E.P.A. maintained that the rule also would deliver as much as $46 billion in net health benefits in the first year that the standards would be fully implemented.

The tiny particles are known as PM 2.5 because they are 2.5 microns in diameter or smaller. By comparison, an average human hair is about 70 microns in diameter.

Harold Wimmer, president of the American Lung Association, called the rule “a step forward.” But he criticized the Biden administration for not going further, noting that science and health experts urged the E.P.A. to lower the standard for the annual average amount to eight micrograms instead of nine.

The new pollution limits could cause election-year complications for President Biden.

Business groups, which are expected to mount a legal challenge to the rule, argue that cutting pollution would crush manufacturing. That includes the roads and bridges funded by the 2021 infrastructure law, legislation that Mr. Biden often promotes. The rule also could make it harder to manufacture the electric vehicle batteries, wind turbines and other products that are central to the president’s climate agenda, they said. Mr. Biden has also made the resurgence of American manufacturing part of his campaign pitch.

At least two Democratic governors, Andy Beshear of Kentucky and Laura Kelly of Kansas, wrote to Mr. Biden expressing concern about the rule’s economic impact.

Mike Ireland, president of the Portland Cement Association, which represents U.S. cement manufacturers, said the rule “would lead to fewer hours of operation at plants, which would mean layoffs, as well as less American cement and concrete at a time when the country needs more.”

Marty Durbin, the senior vice president for policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, predicted manufacturing “gridlock” and noted that wildfires and road dust, neither of which are accounted for in the rule, make up the bulk of fine particulate matter emissions. “This administration is creating obstacles to being able to achieve their infrastructure and climate objectives,” he said.

The U.S. Chamber has estimated that, under the tighter regulation, 569 counties would be out of compliance.

E.P.A. officials said that, by their count, as few as 59 counties might exceed the new standard. And most would be expected to fall within the acceptable range within a few years, they said — because other proposed regulations governing emissions from automobile tailpipes and power plants would also slash fine particulate matter.

“No doubt there will be a loud hue and cry from industry,” said Doris Browne, the former president of the National Medical Association, which is the largest U.S. organization representing Black physicians.

The new restrictions would especially help poor and minority communities, which are disproportionately located near industrial facilities, she said. “The new standard of nine will save lives,” Dr. Browne said. “That is the bottom line.”

The law requires the E.P.A. to review the latest science and to consider updating the PM 2.5 standard every five years, though it had not been strengthened since 2012 under the Obama administration.

The Trump administration did conduct a review. In a draft 457-page scientific assessment of the risks associated with keeping or strengthening the fine soot pollution rule, career scientists at the E.P.A. said that an estimated 45,000 deaths annually were linked to PM 2.5. The scientists wrote that if the rule were tightened to nine micrograms per cubic meter, annual deaths would fall by about 27 percent, or 12,150 people a year.

After the publication of that report, numerous industries, including oil and coal companies, automakers and chemical manufacturers, urged the Trump administration to disregard the findings, and it declined to make any changes.

Lisa Friedman is a Times reporter who writes about how governments are addressing climate change and the effects of those policies on communities. More about Lisa Friedman

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how to stop pollution in factories

There are thousands of industrial facilities around the world, all of which contribute to producing billions of consumer products. While these products may be extremely helpful, their production also puts a huge amount of stress on the environment and our health.

For this reason, the reduction of air pollution has become one of the hottest debate topics in the last 60 years. This article will talk about the different ways that factories and other industrial operations can reduce air pollution and destroy these compounds before they enter our atmosphere.

Common airborne pollutants generated by industrial operations

There are hundreds of different air pollutants that can be found in any given part of the world. However, the most dangerous emissions generated by industrial operations can be divided into three categories. These are:

Volatile organic compounds , known as VOCs, are airborne pollutants that may cause both short and long-term health conditions in humans. These organic chemicals can originate from a variety of operations, with two of the most common being paint and adhesive manufacturing.

Hazardous air pollutants are chemicals that are suspected or known to cause grave health complications. These include cancer, autoimmune diseases, nervous system conditions, respiratory complications, and many more.

Solid Particulate Matter

Solid particulate matter , simply referred to as PM , is a group used to describe airborne pollutants like dirt, debris, and smoke. As the name indicates, particulate matter can be made up of tiny fragments of virtually anything – from organic residue to synthetic compounds and micro-pollutants.

How to reduce air pollution from factories

Paint manufacturing facilities and other operations need to meet specific EPA requirements in order to stay open. At the same time, many factory managers and company owners focus on reducing air pollution because they are aware of the potential negative impact it may have.

The two most common ways companies can reduce their air pollution emissions are:

Optimizing the factory’s operations

Greener, more energy-efficient operations tend to reduce the amount of pollution a factory generates. Companies can optimize different parts of their operation to save energy, thus reducing the facility’s overall emissions.

Destroying pollutants before they enter the atmosphere

Factory operators can also employ abatement mechanisms that help destroy VOCs, HAPs, and other pollutants before they enter the environment. Different abatement techniques are efficient for specific types of pollutants, so you need to evaluate your operation to find the ideal technique. Four of the most commonly used abatement techniques include:

Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer

Known as RTOs, regenerative thermal oxidizers employ high temperatures to destroy pollutants before they are released into the environment. The energy of the actual industrial operation is used in the abatement process whenever possible, which involves a network of high-efficiency heat exchangers.

Recuperative Thermal Oxidizer

Recuperative thermal oxidizers also referred to as TOs, rely on high temperatures and heavy-duty steel heat exchangers to destroy VOCs before they enter the atmosphere.

Catalytic Oxidizer

Catalytic oxidizers use a combination of chemical catalysts and high temperatures to break down pollutants into harmless compounds.

Oxidizers with Rotary Concentrators

Rotary concentrators combined with oxidizers are ideal for chemical processing, surface coating, and wood finishing facilities, just to name a few.

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What Are the Ways to Make Factories Eco-friendly?

But how exactly can factories impact the environment?

Some industry leaders are now starting to build factories that are friendlier to the environment, cheaper, and, consequently, that create more space for workers.

The manufacturing industry may be facing some challenges but there’s no denying that factories are still serving their purpose—to turn raw materials into actual consumable goods at maximum profit.

Effects of Factories to The Environment

There’s no doubt that factories have majorly contributed to the damage caused to the environment—air pollution, toxic waste, and water contamination. In fact, they are actually responsible for two-thirds of greenhouse emissions.

Due to the toxic and dangerous materials that it releases to our environment, not only does our planet suffer but our health is affected as well.

While it’s true that factories are not the only contributors to the damage that continues to ruin our planet at a rapid pace but they are one of the major contributors.

Here are some ways in which factories contribute to the man-made damage being done to our planet:

Air Pollution

Industrial factories are major contributors to air pollution. The amount of toxic gases that factories release into the air increases health and environmental damages.

Global warming leads to rise in the Earth’s temperature

Global warming leads to rise in the Earth’s temperature

Global Warming

In factories, toxic materials and gases, like carbon dioxide and methane, are burned and pumped out into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide and methane absorb radiation from the sun and, therefore, affect the temperature of the planet directly.

Global warming leads to rising sea levels, rise in the Earth’s temperature, risk of extinction of different animal species, increase in tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, and other natural disasters, and melting of the ice caps.

Factory pollution do not only affect our planet but also our health. More on this later.

Health threats

Did you know that air pollution causes more deaths than malaria and AIDS/HIV?

But it’s not only that. Here are some other impacts of air pollution:

  • Lung damage - air pollution doesn’t only suppress the lung’s normal growth rate but it also speeds up the decline of lung function.
  • Pancreas damage - air pollution has been linked to the onset of Type 2 Diabetes.
  • Heart damage - a lot of cardiovascular diseases such as stroke and atherosclerosis have been linked to air pollution.
  • Brain damage - brain growth in young children and pregnant women is also known to be impacted.

Additionally, US factories emit 1.2 trillion gallons of untreated sewage and industrial waste into water every year, discharge 3 million tons of toxic chemicals, and consume nearly 16 billion gallons of water per day.

But on the bright side, there are already several industry leaders that are reinventing the way the run factories to help the environment and to improve the atmosphere inside for the workers. By integrating updated green building standards, some factories run while also contributing to the planet—with sunnier spaces, healthier air, and total self-sufficiency.

These factories produce their own energy, reuse water, reducing—if not eliminating altogether—waste, and use materials made from sustainable sources. But luckily, this kind of process model doesn’t necessarily cost more than the traditional model and it even saves money on energy, encourages workers to be more productive, and creates better, higher-quality products.

It may sound too good to be true but Industrial Louvers, a 46-year-old company, is actually doing it! Located 30 miles west of Minneapolis, they’re one of the earliest adopters of the sustainable approach.

In October 2017, Industrial Louvers built a new 50,000-square-foot addition to their factory where they make custom louvers, decorative grills, sunshades, and screens for building exteriors.

This expansion will house an entirely new production line that’s free of toxic chemicals that are usually found in the aluminum industry. The stronger roof will hold the photovoltaic solar panels which they are looking to install by around 2022.

The electricity produced by these panels will run the energy-intensive compressors and other electric machinery. The roof will also have the ability to harvest rainwater that will take 60,000 gallons of water to an underground holding tank—which they will then use for the wash system at then end of the production line.

The company’s director of sales and marketing, Lisa Britton, says she expects that the rainwater system supply at least 25 to 100 percent of their needs.

Energy-cost savings may not be as high because they’re also expanding their facilities and modifying their production line. But the company sees it as an investment in the industry and its employees.

They will be able to improve the air quality in the building by removing the toxic chemicals. This already benefits their employees in such a big way but they’ll be more benefits as well—windows and skylights in this new building will bring natural light into the whole facility.

Reinhardt says “happier, healthier employees are better workers,” she adds, “They’re more productive, efficient, and loyal. We feel it pays off there. We want this to be a place where people enjoy coming to work.”

This is all great news. But now, you might be thinking that making factories that are good for the environment is a lot of work—it’s not. There are a lot of ways you can give back to the environment.

Try repairing it or replacing some parts but if it doesn’t lead to improvement

Try repairing it or replacing some parts but if it doesn’t lead to improvement

Reduce Water Consumption

Aside from saving energy, this can also lead to more time saved—helping you attain a faster turnaround time and avoid bottlenecks. Plus, it might also improve your output!

Furthermore, factory equipment releases high, if not excessive, amounts of waste heat energy. Companies can consider investing in cogeneration systems to use all these wasted energy to your advantage. Cogeneration systems use the heat energy released by the equipment to moderately heat what you need it to heat such as water or spaces.

As we’ve mentioned earlier, an energy audit can help pinpoint equipment and processes that need the most improvement.

Factories produce a lot product waste as well. Instead of tossing everything out, evaluate them to see if there is anything that you can reuse not just in the manufacturing process but also for the use of the whole facility. You can also try and educate your employees to differentiate waste from recyclable materials.

You may also try reaching out to different communities or educational institutes to see if they’d be interested in waste factory materials. For example, they might be able to recycle and even upcycle scrap metal or wood for some projects.

If these are not feasible for your company, try to segregate your waste properly.

One of the most common solution that companies use is installing solar panels

One of the most common solution that companies use is installing solar panels

Utilize Renewable Energy Sources

This is a bigger-scale change but it surely reduces your carbon footprint. You can choose from wind, solar, and geothermal—and those are just some of the options.

One of the most common solution that companies use is installing solar panels. Many governments recognize green efforts and offer companies tax credits and subsidies to allow for more ROI and encourage more companies to follow suit.

If a 360-degree transition is not feasible due to resource or financial constraints, factories may consider using a combination of renewable and traditional sources.

As we know, every little effort helps.

Factory owners that make the effort to improve company culture

Factory owners that make the effort to improve company culture

Improve Company Culture

Factory owners that make the effort to improve company culture to make it more eco-friendly are more likely to attract employees that value the same efforts.

Now, if your employees believe in what your company is trying to do, they are more likely to work hard to help you achieve your company’s mission. This means a smoother transition to being greener and happier employees.

What your company can do to improve the internal culture is to focus on educational or training programs that would show your employees how they can contribute to reducing your company’s carbon footprint over time. It would also help if you can show them concrete goals and timelines.

You should already be thinking about being more sustainable or contributing to the environment. But if you’re yet to do so, now is the best time to start. Change can be difficult but, luckily, there’s already a lot of technology and solutions to help ease the transition. All you need to do now is to take action—no matter how big or small.

This solution can help you cut your paper usage significantly: electronic shelf labels .

Contact us today to see how we can help you go green.

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