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PVC Factory Rule Falls Short of Expectations

By Paula Melton

This article originally appeared on BuildingGreen.com.

May 14, 2012

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a final rule aimed at reducing toxic emissions from PVC manufacturing facilities. PVC is used in everything from pipes to vinyl siding to latex paint, and its manufacture produces vinyl chloride, a potent human carcinogen that particularly affects children.

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In a shift from earlier rules, which regulated only vinyl chloride, the new standard places limits on total emissions of airborne toxic chemicals as well as di-benzo dioxins, furans, and hydrogen chloride. The rule is part of a legal settlement reached with the Sierra Club and local environmental groups, which sued EPA in 2008 for not updating its emissions rules to include these other substances. The final rule will reduce total annual emissions by 238 tons, but an earlier draft would have reduced emissions by 1,570 tons, according to Monique Harden, co-director and attorney at Advocates for Environmental Human Rights, who expressed disappointment with the change.

According to EPA, there are 17 PVC production facilities in the U.S., most of them in Louisiana and Texas, and the number of minorities living within three miles of the plants is 6 percent higher than the national average.

Copyright 2012 by BuildingGreen Inc.

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