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Environment, Health, And Safety Issues In the Year Ahead

(April 2009) posted on Mon Jun 01, 2009

Greenhouse-gas emissions, chemical regulations, labeling and reporting standards, and sustainability are among the issues that will have an impact on our industry in 2009. This overview discusses how these areas of concern will affect specialty printing companies.

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By Marcia Y. Kinter

With a new administration, the specialty graphics industry will face new challenges over the next four years. At this point in time, all attention is focused on the current economic situation. However, do not take this to mean that all other issues are off the table. Key indications in both the US Congress, as well as states, highlight greenhouse-gas emissions, chemical legislation and regulation, implementation of the Global Harmonization Standard, and possible reemergence of an ergonomics regulation as topics to watch in 2009.


Greenhouse-gas emissions

July 2008 saw the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issuing an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking that offers options for the regulation of greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions under the Clean Air Act (CAA). Because this emerging issue is most associated with mobile sources of emission, many industrial facilities have not paid enough attention to it. In April 2007, the US Supreme Court concluded that GHGs meet the Clean Air Act (CAA) definition of an air pollutant. Therefore, EPA concluded that they had the authority under the CAA to regulate GHGs subject to the endangerment test for new motor vehicles—an Agency determination that GHG emissions from new motor vehicles cause or contribute to air pollution that may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.

A decision to regulate GHG emissions for motor vehicles impacts whether other sources of GHG emissions would need to be regulated as well, including establishing permitting requirements for stationary sources of air pollutants. In the US, energy-related activities account for three quarters of our human-generated greenhouse-gas emissions, mostly in the form of carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels. More than half the energy-related emissions come from large stationary sources such as power plants, while about a third comes from transportation. Industrial processes (such as the production of cement, steel, and aluminum), agriculture, forestry, other land use, and waste management are also sources of greenhouse-gas emissions in the United States.

GHGs include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide a number of fluorinated gases, and water vapor. The control of GHGs falls under the US Climate Policy, enacted to address climate change. The policy has three basic components: slowing the growth of GHG emissions; strengthening science, technology, and institutions; and enhancing international cooperation. The release of the rulemaking in July 2008 discussed avenues to decrease GHG emissions in the United States.


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