Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

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More air related guidance in alphabetical order

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What you must do

If your activities create levels of dust and odour that could cause damage to property, or disturbance to the surrounding community, your local council's environmental health department can:

  • place restrictions on your operations
  • stop your operations
  • require you to take steps to reduce the nuisance.

Noise, odour and all nuisances

If your process is regulated under the Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) regime, your permit may require you to control emissions of:

  • dust
  • odour
  • halogens (substances containing chlorine, fluorine and bromine)
  • nitrogen oxides
  • sulphur dioxide
  • volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Pollution prevention and control permits

Check if you carry out activities that require a PPC permit controlling your emissions to air.

Does your business require a pollution prevention and control permit?

Subject to certain exemptions, it is an offence to cause or permit the emission of dark smoke from a chimney or bonfire.

Controls have been introduced to limit the sulphur content of fuels. You must not use gas oil with a sulphur content exceeding 0.1% by mass.

You must not use heavy fuel oil with a sulphur content exceeding 1% by mass. This is particularly relevant if you have stocks of stand-by fuel that can remain unchanged for considerable periods of time. If you operate pre-1987 combustion plant you can apply for a Sulphur Content of Liquid Fuels Permit from your local council in Northern Ireland or SEPA in Scotland.

If your business produces, uses or handles fluorinated gases, or products that contain fluorinated gases, you must comply with the requirements of the EU Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases Regulation. The regulation covers gases such as hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride that are used in equipment, machinery and other products. Its controls relate to a number of areas including:

  • containment, use, recovery and destruction of the gases
  • labelling and disposal of products and equipment containing the gases
  • training for personnel handling the gases.

F-gases

For further information, you should read guidance produced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

GOV.UK: Flourinated greenhouse gases and ozone depleting substances

Good practice

  • Keep a record of all complaints you receive about dust and odour. Ensure that you deal with complaints promptly and appropriately, and that the results of investigations into the cause and any corrective actions are recorded. Use this information to improve your procedures to prevent similar complaints in the future.
  • Reduce the number of materials transfer points on your site to minimise emissions to air, especially from dusty materials.
  • Lay a hard surface on roads and storage areas to reduce dust production.
  • Regularly maintain your abatement equipment.
  • Allow good airflow through your production and working environment. Monitor this regularly using airflow measurement equipment.

Air emissions from manufacturing chemicals can contain a wide range of harmful substances which can have negative effects on the environment and human health.

What you must do

Permits for manufacturing

If you have a pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit, you must meet the conditions of your permit. Your permit may contain conditions relating to odour and emissions to air of:

  • halogens, ie substances that contain chlorine, fluorine, iodine and bromine
  • nitrous oxides
  • ozone-depleting substances (ODS), eg carbon tetrachloride, hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)
  • suspended particulates (dust)
  • sulphur dioxide
  • volatile organic compounds (VOCs), eg acetaldehyde, ethylene, phenol.

You must find out if you need a PPC permit.

Does your business need a permit, licence or exemption?

Prevent odour and nuisance from manufacturing

You must make sure that your business does not cause a nuisance to your neighbours or the local community. Nuisances include smoke, dust, odour, noise and vibration. Anyone affected by a nuisance can take legal action against you or your business, or complain to your local council.

If your business causes a nuisance, or could cause or repeat a nuisance, you can be issued with an abatement notice. Your local council's environmental health department or the courts can issue abatement notices. You can be fined if you do not comply with an abatement notice.

An abatement notice can:

  • stop or impose restrictions on your operations
  • require you to carry out works or take other steps to restrict or remove the nuisance.

For further information see our guidance on Noise, odour and all nuisances.

Manufacturing chemicals can cause odour problems. This could result from:

  • using certain chemicals groups, eg VOCs or sulfurous compounds
  • products from specific chemical processes, eg chlorophenols
  • emissions from reaction or distillation facilities
  • storing raw materials such as solvents, eg ethyl acetate, toluene, xylene
  • emissions from waste and waste water treatment processes.

Prevent dark smoke

You must not cause or allow chimneys or bonfires on your site to emit dark smoke. You can apply for an exemption from this requirement when burning certain waste materials in the open - for example, waste explosives.

You must still comply with any other legislation that covers these activities.

Preventing air pollution

Waste incineration

Good practice

  • Store oils, fuels, solvents and chemicals in suitable, sealed containers. Make sure that lids fit tightly. This will help you avoid causing air pollution from odours and dust.
  • Make sure the seals in your equipment fit properly and are in good condition, eg around valves and flanges.
  • Use extraction units to remove dust and odour from your operations. Filter the extracted air before you release it into the atmosphere.
  • Regularly inspect and maintain all abatement equipment (eg scrubbers, carbon filters, dust filters) to ensure your equipment runs efficiently.
  • Make regular visual inspections of your emissions to air, and keep inspection records on your site.
  • Store loose materials either indoors or under cover. This will help you control dust, minimise emissions and reduce waste.
  • Ensure that roads and any open storage areas are hard-surfaced. Clean these regularly to reduce dust.
  • During periods of dry weather, use dust suppression techniques such as damping down areas of your site that could cause dust clouds. Consider collecting rainwater, instead of tap water, to damp down problem areas.
  • Cover skips and lorries leaving your site to reduce dust.
  • Keep your site clear and tidy. Preventing the build up of waste and rubbish will reduce dust and other nuisances.
  • Have a formal neighbourhood complaints procedure in place and deal with complaints promptly and appropriately. Keep a record of all complaints you receive about dust, odour and other nuisances and what you do to deal with them.

Air inside your hairdressing business can contain

  • odours and chemicals from hair dyes and treatments
  • dust and vapours from nail care treatment
  • airborne fine hair.

If you have an extraction system then these can be removed from your premises, but could become a nuisance for surrounding properties. This can include residential properties as well as other businesses.

What you must do

Prevent nuisances

You must not create a nuisance for neighbouring properties from dust or odours. If neighbours complain, you should try to deal with the problem before your local council becomes involved. If, for example, a food business or a café is being affected by odours or dust from your business, they can make a complaint to the local council.

Your local council can require you to take steps to prevent the nuisance, or could even close your business until the problem is solved. Read our guidance on noise, odour and all nuisances.

Noise, odour and all nuisances 

Health and safety measures

Provide your staff with appropriate safety equipment if dealing with chemicals; read the manufacturer’s instructions before using them. The fumes from certain products, and dust and fine airborne hairs can cause adverse reactions, such as asthma or dermatitis. You should minimise exposure for clients, but especially for staff who are exposed for long periods of time.

HSE: Beauty sector

Good practice

Prevent dust and odours

You can prevent many of the odours and health effects by buying hair, nail and other beauty products that don’t contain any of the potentially harmful or odour producing chemicals. Ammonia free products are available, as are products without solvents.

Use pump dispensers where possible rather than aerosols.

Eco Hair and Beauty: List of product suppliers

Use blow-dryers less

Use hairdryers that are lower energy use, and use them only as necessary. This prevents stirring up dust, fine hair and nail filings into the air your staff and customers breathe.

Ventilated and downdraft tables

Ventilated and downdraft tables are useful to keep dust and particles under control. Nail filing and skin treatments can produce fine dust. Ventilated or downdraft manicure tables can protect clients and workers from the harmful effects of breathing in this dust.

Fit air filtration systems

You can fit filtration systems that will remove all fine airborne hair, dust from nail filing and odours from the air. This will create a fresh atmosphere in your premises and will prevent irritation of skin, lung and eyes for your workers and clients.

In Denmark air filtration systems are now required by law for all hair and beauty businesses.

Further information

Hair and Beauty Industry Authority (Habia): H&S packs

VIDEO: Ecoproducts

Eco Hair and Beauty: Sustainable salon tips

The Virtual Salon

Ecohair and beauty have developed their Virtual Salon. You can log on and enter the virtual salon to learn about sustainable hair care in a fun and engaging way. Once finished you can get the Sustainable stylist certificate. Why not get all staff to work through the salon and be eligible for the Sustainable Salon Certificate.

Find out more ands sign up for your free access to the virtual salon.

Ecohair and Beauty: Virtual Salon

 

Businesses that manufacture, assemble or service machinery or electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) may emit dust, fumes and gases which cause air pollution.

If your business uses solvents, see our guidance on solvent emissions.

What you must do

Comply with your permit, licence or exemption

If your business has a permit, licence or registered exemption you must comply with its conditions. If you do not comply with conditions you can be fined or sent to prison.

Your permit, licence or exemption may have conditions that control the quantity and concentration of your emissions of:

  • dust
  • odour oxides of nitrogen (NOx)
  • oxides of sulphur (SOx)
  • halogens, eg chlorine, fluorine, bromine
  • volatile organic compounds (VOCs), eg formaldehyde, phenols.

Pollution prevention and control permits

Prevent nuisance

Your machinery or EEE business may produce:

  • odour from VOCs
  • dust and fumes from welding and handling materials.

If your activities create levels of dust or odour that disturbs your neighbours, your local council can issue you with an abatement notice that:

  • requires you to reduce the nuisance
  • stops or places restrictions on your operations
  • requires you to carry out work, or take other steps to reduce or stop the nuisance from reoccurring.

Anyone affected by the nuisance, such as your neighbours, can apply to the court in Northern Ireland or the sheriff in Scotland to issue you with an abatement notice. You can be fined if you do not comply with an abatement notice, and your local authority can take steps to stop the nuisance and charge you for its costs.

For further information on nuisance, see our guidance on noise, odour and other nuisances.

Prevent dark smoke

You must not emit dark smoke from:

  • chimneys of any building
  • chimneys serving furnaces, fixed boilers or industrial plant, whether they are attached to buildings or not
  • any industrial or trade premises.

Smoke is considered 'dark' if it has a shade of two or darker on the Ringlemann chart. You can find the Ringelmann chart in British Standard BS2742C.

BSI British Standards: BS 2742C 1957 Ringelmann chart

For further information, see our guidance on air pollution from furnaces, boilers and bonfires.

Check the sulphur content of your fuel

You must check the content of sulphur in your petroleum-based fuels, particularly any standby fuel you have stored for a long period of time. You must not use:

  • gas oil with a sulphur content of more than 0.1% by mass
  • heavy fuel oil with a sulphur content of more than 1% by mass.

There are some exceptions to this restriction. For further information on the restrictions, contact your environmental regulator.

Contact your environmental regulator

Check if you use ozone depleting substances or fluorinated gases

Many ODS are banned. Ozone depleting substances (ODS) include:

  • hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)
  • chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
  • 1,1,1 trichloroethane
  • bromochloromethane
  • carbon tetrachloride.

Fluorinated gases (F-gases) are powerful greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming and climate change.

If your business uses or handles ODS or F-gases read our guidance on ozone depleting substances and fluorinated gases.

Ozone depleting substances

F-gases

Refrigeration and air conditioning

Good practice

Reduce emissions to air from your site

  • Lay a hard surface on roads and storage areas at your site to reduce your dust emissions.
  • Collect rainwater from your roof and use this to dampen dusty areas of your site. Use sustainable drainage systems to collect run-off so that you do not cause water pollution.
  • Limit the number of points on your site where you transfer materials to minimise dust.
  • Store your oil, fuel, solvents and chemicals in suitable, sealed containers. This will help you to avoid causing air pollution from fumes.
  • Use extraction units to remove dust and other emissions from your operations. Filter the extracted air before you release it into the atmosphere.
  • Reduce your vehicle emissions.

Be a good operator

  • Maintain a high standard of housekeeping at your site. This could help you reduce dust and other nuisances.
  • Clean and maintain your equipment regularly to ensure that it is working efficiently.
  • Allow good airflow through your production and working environment. Use airflow measurement equipment to monitor your airflow.
  • When you buy new plant or equipment ensure that it has emission reduction features.
  • Monitor dust and other air emissions at your site regularly.

Be a good neighbour

  • Speak to your neighbours regularly about any issues with dust or other air emissions at your site.
  • Deal with any complaints about air emissions quickly. Record the results of investigations into complaints and anything you do to correct the problem.

Animal husbandry is the largest source of ammonia releases to air in the UK.

Slurry and manure are likely to release ammonia when they come into contact with air. Emissions of ammonia can:

  • Disrupt the balance of some types of vegetation such as heathlands or bogs which exist partly because of naturally low soil nitrogen.
  • Result in acidity when it reacts in the soil. Excess acid in the soil is damaging to certain types of vegetation. 
  • Lead to damaged foliage and slower growth of trees or other vegetation growing close to a source of high ammonia emissions due to the direct toxic effects of the gas.

The UK is required to reduce its ammonia emissions to meet air quality standards.

Good practice

There are many ways to reduce emissions of ammonia from slurry and manure handling, including:

  • using different storage methods for manure
  • using different handling and spreading methods for slurry.

The codes of good agricultural practice provide more information on how you can reduce ammonia emissions.

If your business has air-conditioned offices or carries out a manufacturing process that uses water as a coolant, it may have a cooling tower.

Cooling towers remove heat from circulating cooling water systems, so that the water can be recirculated. The heat removed from the water is released to the atmosphere.

Most large buildings with offices, classrooms, lecture theatres or laboratories have systems that control the heating and cooling of air in the building. Sports facilities and swimming pools also use these systems. Many of these systems have cooling towers or heat exchangers which are often situated on the roof of the building.

What you must do

Register your cooling tower

If you have a cooling tower or an evaporative condenser, you must notify your local council. You must also tell them if you make any changes to your cooling tower or if you stop using it. Ask your local council's environmental health department for a cooling tower registration or notification form.

Contact your local council

Your local council and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSE NI) will carry out regular inspections to ensure that your cooling tower meets safety standards.

Check if you need a permit

If your cooling tower is part of a large installation you may need a pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit. If you are not sure whether you need a permit, contact your environmental regulator.

Pollution prevention and control permits

Contact your environmental regulator

Prevent Legionnaires' disease

You must keep cooling tower systems in good condition. If they are not properly maintained they can create the ideal habitat for certain bacteria, in particular Legionella which causes Legionnaires' disease.

You must register your cooling tower with your local council so that they can identify areas where there is a risk of the spread of infectious disease.

HSE: Legionnaires' disease - a guide for employers (Adobe PDF - 219KB)

Limit noise from cooling towers

Cooling tower fans may be noisy and cause a nuisance to the surrounding community.

If you think your cooling tower fans might cause a nuisance, you should discuss your operations with:

  • your local council
  • your environmental regulator if you have a PPC permit.

It is best to do this before you receive any complaints. If noise levels are too high, your local council or environmental regulator can stop your operations.

Fit ventilation silencers to your cooling tower fan inlet and discharge vents to reduce noise levels.

See our guidance on noise, odour and all nuisances.

Have a permit to discharge cooling tower effluents

If you discharge any cooling tower effluents or cooling tower blowdown to surface waters, groundwater, land or public sewers, you must have a permit or licence.

See our guidance on trade effluent .

See our guidance on water pollution.

If you are not sure whether you need a permit or licence, contact your environmental regulator or your water and sewerage company or authority.

Contact your environmental regulator

Water UK: Water and sewerage operators

Good practice

Maintain your cooling towers

Inspect your cooling towers regularly. Be aware that your local council and the HSE or HSE NI will visit your premises to ensure you meet safety standards.

You should clean cooling towers:

  • at least twice a year
  • after any shutdown of more than a month
  • after any major alterations.

Employ specialists to carry out cleaning. Cleaning will improve cooling tower efficiency and minimise the risk of disease.

Store chemicals safely

You may store chemicals on your site, for example for maintenance. Chemicals you receive may be supplied with a safety data sheet (SDS). The SDS contains information about the chemical, including how to store, use and dispose of it safely. The SDS may also recommend the best methods and materials to use to clean up a spill. If you receive a chemical without an SDS, contact your supplier to find out whether or not they have to provide one.

For more information see our guidance on chemical storage.

Your machinery or electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) business may use solvents to remove grease and oil. You can apply solvents using rags, vapour or immersion degreasing baths.

If your business carries out vapour degreasing you will use halogenated solvents, including:

  • trichloroethylene (trike)
  • methylene chloride (dichloromethane)
  • n-propyl bromide (stabilised)
  • perchloroethylene (perc).

Organic solvents can have a significant impact on human health and air quality.

What you must do

Check if you need a permit, licence or exemption

If you use degreasing solvents you may need a pollution, prevention and control permit.

If you have a permit, licence or exemption you must comply with its conditions, including any conditions about solvent emissions or other emissions.

Do not use ozone depleting substances

You must not use ozone depleting substances (ODS) for most degreasing or solvent applications, including:

  • hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)
  • chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
  • 1,1,1 trichloroethane
  • bromochloromethane (CBM)
  • carbon tetrachloride.

Some vapour degreasing baths use banks of refrigerant-filled coils in the condensing zone. If you use CFCs, HCFCs or halon-based refrigeration systems, you must make sure that your staff or contractors who service and repair refrigeration equipment comply with the controls on ozone depleting substances.

Comply with your waste responsibilities

You must comply with your duty of care responsibilities when dealing with waste.

You may need to deal with the following materials and substances as hazardous/special waste:

  • degreasing solvents
  • sump contamination (still bottoms)
  • soiled, solvent-impregnated rags
  • used containers
  • water collected in water and solvent separators.

For further information, see our guidance on hazardous/special waste.

Check if you need any permits, consents or other authorisations to discharge water

Do not discharge to public sewers, surface waters or groundwater without consulting your regulator. You may need a discharge consent, groundwater authorisation or other authorisation. For further information, see our guidance on discharges to water and sewer.

Good practice

Use less hazardous products and techniques

Trike and n-propyl bromide are classified as category two carcinogens. If you use these substances you should try to replace them with a less harmful alternative. You may be required to do this as a condition of your permit or by health and safety laws.

European trike producers have signed a voluntary agreement on the safe use of trike in metal cleaning. Trike will not be supplied for metal cleaning or degreasing unless the user has a closed system.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE): Trike information sheet (Adobe PDF - 49KB)

The Institute of Metal Finishing: Guidance on the use of Trichloroethylene as a vapour degreasing solvent (Adobe PDF - 651KB)

Reduce your solvent use and losses

  • Choose a closed-top system, or interlocking system if appropriate, when you replace your equipment as it will reduce your solvent consumption and energy use.
  • Locate your vapour degreasing machines away from draughts from doors, windows and heating to avoid excessive solvent loss.
  • Remove components from your degreasing baths slowly and under control. This will reduce solvent loss.
  • Put lids on your solvent containers when you are not using them to reduce solvent loss.
  • Consider fitting lids to any open-top degreasing baths. Fit your lids in the free-board zone.
  • Control your lip extraction rates to ensure your staff are safe and to prevent excessive loss of solvent.
  • Service and maintain your equipment regularly, and pay particular attention to refrigeration and extraction systems.
  • Use 'squeeze' type bottles for transferring solvent onto rags.

Manage your solvent waste and prevent contamination

  • Do not mix different waste solvents as this could be dangerous and prevent your solvents from being reclaimed.
  • Consider laundering and reusing the rags you use for surface cleaning.
  • Monitor the boiling temperature of your vapour degreasing bath. Heavily contaminated solvents have higher boiling points. This indicates that you need to change your solvent.
  • Fill your degreasing systems from fixed pipework lines to reduce the risk of spills and land contamination.
  • Check the degreasing system for leaks and corrosion regularly.

Further information on degreasing solvents

HSE: Safe use of solvent degreasing plant (Adobe PDF - 37KB)

Envirowise: Cost effective solvent management (Adobe PDF - 548KB)

If you produce energy or steam on your site and you have a generator, furnace or boiler with a rated thermal input above certain threshold levels, you will require a permit from your environmental regulator.

What you must do

Northern Ireland - get a pollution prevention and control permit

You will need a Part A pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit for:

  • appliances with a rated thermal input of 50 megawatts or more
  • appliances burning waste oil, recovered oil or fuel manufactured from waste.

You will need a Part C PPC permit for:

  • appliances with a rated thermal input of 20 to 50 megawatts or a combination of appliances which when added together, have a net rated thermal input exceeding 20 megawatts but less than a rated thermal input of 50 megawatts.

Part A is regulated by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and Part C is regulated by your district council.

Pollution prevention and control permits

Scotland – get a pollution prevention and control permit

You will need a Part A pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit for:

  • appliances with a rated thermal input of 50 megawatts or more
  • appliances burning waste oil, recovered oil or fuel manufactured from waste.

You will need a Part B PPC permit for:

  • appliances with a rated thermal input of 20 to 50 megawatts
  • appliances burning waste excluded from the Waste Incineration Directive with a rated thermal input of 0.4 to 3 megawatts.

You may still have a Local Air Pollution Control (LAPC) authorisation. This will eventually be transferred to Part B PPC.

Pollution prevention and control permits

Comply with the waste incineration directive

If you burn quantities of waste above certain limits you will need a PPC permit that complies with the Waste Incineration Directive.

Waste incineration

Get a clean air consent

You must have a consent from your local council under the Clean Air Act before you install a furnace or  a fixed boiler on your site. Building regulations consent is not sufficient. You must be able to operate the furnace continually without emitting smoke when using the correct type of fuel.

Meet chimney height requirements

Your chimney must be high enough to prevent smoke, grit, dust, gases and fume emissions damaging health or causing a nuisance. Your local council can refuse approval for a chimney that is not a sufficient height.

You must apply for chimney height approval from your local council if:

  • you do not have a PPC permit
  • you do not hold an LAPC authorisation in Scotland
  • your boiler's fuel consumption exceeds 45.4kg (solid fuel) or 366.4kW (liquid or gas fuel) per hour.

If your approval application is refused your local council will tell you the minimum chimney height you need.

Your local council can give conditional approval for your chimney. You may have restrictions on the rate and type of emissions. Emission rates are measured in kilograms per hour (Kg/hr).

If your use of the chimney changes you must re-apply for approval for the new emissions.

It is an offence to use a chimney without approval from your local council.

Contact your local council

Meet boiler emission requirements

If you install a new boiler it must be able to run continuously without emitting smoke.

You must fit all boilers with grit and dust arrestment equipment. You can apply to your local council for an exemption, but this will only be granted if the boiler will not create emissions that could damage health or cause a nuisance.

For further information contact your local council or SEPA in Scotland.

Contact your local council

SEPA: Contacting SEPA

Oil and condensation

You must not use gas oil with a sulphur content over 0.1% by mass.

You must not use heavy fuel oil with a sulphur content over 1% by mass.

If you have pre-1987 combustion equipment you can apply for a sulphur content of liquid fuels permit from SEPA in Scotland or from the Industrial and Radiochemical Inspectorate in Northern Ireland.

You must gain approval from either your environmental regulator or sewerage undertaker

to discharge to surface waters, groundwater or foul sewers condensate from:

  • steam traps
  • acid from regenerating ion exchange resins
  • boiler blowdown water.

Good practice

  • Visually inspect your emissions regularly so you can detect problems early.
  • Carry out planned maintenance to ensure that your boiler meets air emission standards and operates efficiently.
  • Use cleaner fuels, such as gas, to limit the environmental impact of your boiler.
  • Make use of the free services available to your business to help reduce your demand for energy and heat.

Energy efficiency

Consider the use of Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems to increase efficiency and cut your bills

Further information no energy and steam generation

See our guidance on generating energy from waste

Process guidance notes are available which provide details of how your business is regulated for emissions to air. You can buy process guidance notes from the Stationery Office or download them from Defra.

The Stationery Office Bookshop

Defra: Process guidance notes (PG) notes

DOENI: Guidance on Directive 2000/76/EC on the incineration of waste (Northern Ireland)

Scottish Government: Practical guide to the Waste Incineration Regulations

Fume hoods or fume cupboards are used to prevent people working in laboratories being exposed to harmful or unpleasant gases and dust particles. Fixed fume hoods are usually connected to extraction fans which vent to the outside air. Modern equipment uses filters to prevent the release of harmful material to the environment.

What you must do

Emissions to air

Research activities are exempt from the permitting and reporting requirements of the pollution prevention and control (PPC) regime. Emissions from fume cupboards are not likely to contain large amounts of chemicals.

If you use organic solvents you must check that the total quantity of solvents used across your site does not exceed certain thresholds. There are thresholds set for each activity. See our guidance on solvent emissions for further information.

Solvent emissions

Emissions from the venting of fume hoods are likely to involve small quantities of gases, fumes or dust. You must prevent emissions of noxious or offensive substances. You should render these substances harmless or inoffensive before you emit them.

If your emissions cause annoyance to the surrounding community you may have to deal with them as a statutory nuisance.

Noise, odour and other nuisances

Fume cupboard design and maintenance

Fume cupboards are classed as local exhaust ventilation (LEV) equipment and you must ensure that their design and fitting complies with British Standards. Depending on the age of your equipment, it should be built and fitted in compliance with BS 7258:1994 or BS EN 14175:2003. You must examine the equipment at least every 14 months. In practice, this is normally taken to mean annually. You must keep records for five years.

British Standards Institution: BS EN 14175:2003 Fume cupboards

British Standards Institution: BS EN 7258:1994 Laboratory fume cupboards

You must make sure that that the air being drawn into the fume cupboard has an average velocity of 5 m/s (metres per second). You must make sure that the minimum velocity at any point is 4m/s or greater.

If you use a fume cupboard for work involving radioactive substances you must fit it with a filter and label it as a Filtered Fume Cupboard.

If you use a fume cupboard for work involving reactive materials, such as hydrofluoric acid, which can damage pipework and the cupboard itself, then you should fit it with cascading water over the airflow outlet. You should label it as a Scrubbed Fume Cupboard.

You should treat used filters from fume cupboards as hazardous/special waste. You can identify contaminants from the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) which is supplied with the chemicals you use.

Hazardous/special waste

Hazardous substances

You can find guidance on the steps you must take to comply with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI). These regulations have been amended to include work with biological organisms.

HSE: A brief guide to the COSHH regulations (Adobe PDF - 80KB)

HSE: Control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH)

HSENI: A guide to the COSHH Regulations in Northern Ireland 

If you supply a potentially hazardous chemical, you may have to provide a safety data sheet (SDS). The SDS tells the user how to handle, store and dispose of hazardous chemicals.

For guidance about when to provide an SDS and what it should include, see the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) leaflet.

HSE: REACH and safety data sheets (Adobe PDF - 111KB)

If you don't receive an SDS with a chemical, you can contact the supplier and ask for one. Suppliers who do not provide adequate instructions for using their products safely may be breaking the law.

HSE: Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP) Regulations

HSE: Labelling and packaging

Good practice

  • Always refer to the material safety data sheet (MSDS) before using a chemical.
  • Try to find safer alternatives when working with dangerous materials.
  • Careful planning can minimise the use of materials and reduce emissions. This will reduce the amount you use, release less to the atmosphere and save you money.
  • Use microchemistry techniques where possible. This reduces the amount of materials you use and the waste you generate.
  • Never use fume cupboards to store chemicals. This will help you avoid accidental spills and unplanned reactions.
  • Always ensure that containers have lids securely fixed in place.
  • Keep appropriate equipment on hand to deal with spills.
  • Be aware that fume hoods do not provide complete containment. If you require complete containment you should use a glove box or glove bag.

Useful links

European Agency for Safety and Health at Work: Dangerous substances

European Agency for Safety and Health at Work: An introduction to dangerous substances in the workplace

European Agency for Safety and Health at Work: Elimination and substitution of dangerous substances

The most harmful environmental impacts from furnaces are from emissions of particulates (dust) and fumes.

What you must do

Permits

Check with your environmental regulator or local council to see if you need a permit for your furnace. You may need a pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit.

If you have a permit, you must comply with its conditions. Your permit may contain conditions relating to your levels of noise, vibration, odour and dust and smoke emissions.

Contact your environmental regulator

Pollution prevention and control permits

Odour and nuisance

You must make sure that your business does not cause a nuisance to your neighbours or the local community. Nuisances include smoke, dust, odour, noise and vibration. Anyone affected by a nuisance can take legal action against you or your business, or complain to your local council.

If your business causes a nuisance, or could cause or repeat a nuisance, you can be issued with an abatement notice. Your local council's environmental health department or the courts can issue abatement notices. You can be fined if you do not comply with an abatement notice.

An abatement notice can:

  • stop or impose restrictions on your operations
  • require you to carry out works or take other steps to restrict or remove the nuisance.

For further information see our guidance on Noise, odour and other nuisances.

Installing a furnace

Your local council must approve your plans before you use any new furnace, or make changes to an existing furnace.

If you have local council consent for your installation, you still cannot emit dark smoke. All new furnace installations must be able to run continuously without emitting smoke. In Scotland furnaces must be fitted with grit and dust arrestment plant. You can apply for an exemption from this requirement, but only if your installation will not cause emissions that could damage health or cause a nuisance.

Your local council regulates chimney height if your furnace fuel consumption exceeds 45.4kg of solid fuel or 366.4kW of liquid or gas fuel per hour. Your chimney must be high enough to prevent smoke, grit, dust, gas and fume emissions from damaging health or causing a nuisance.

Preventing air pollution

Contact your local council

Sulphur content of fuels

You must not use gas oil with a sulphur content exceeding 0.1% by mass.

You must not use heavy fuel oil with a sulphur content exceeding 1% by mass. This is particularly relevant if you have stocks of stand-by fuel that remain unchanged for considerable periods of time. If you operate pre-1987 combustion plant you can apply for a 'sulphur content of liquid fuels' permit from SEPA in Scotland or from the Industrial and Radiochemical Inspectorate in Northern Ireland.

Contact your local council

Contact your environmental regulator

Incineration

If you prepare material by incineration, or you use waste oil or recovered fuel oil to fire your furnace, check if the Waste Incineration Directive will affect your operations.

Waste incineration

Radioactive sources

Some level-detection and smoke detection devices on furnaces use radioactive sources. If your furnace uses a radioactive source, you must have a certificate of registration or authorisation from your environmental regulator.

Radioactive materials: Registration, authorisation and exemptions

Good practice

Using your furnaces efficiently

  • Consider whether you could use more environmentally friendly furnace fuel.
  • Make sure you are using the most efficient furnace for your process. For example, an electric induction furnace emits one tenth of the particulate emissions of a cupola furnace.
  • Follow the start-up procedures recommended by the furnace manufacturer. Allow sufficient time when lighting up your furnace from cold. This will enable your furnace to run more efficiently and avoid unnecessary emissions and fuel use.
  • Service your extraction systems regularly and repair defects or damage promptly. This will ensure you keep emissions to a minimum and you operate your furnace efficiently.
  • Put materials into batches and use programmed heating controls in order to improve energy efficiency.

Furnace charge material

  • Pelletise fine feed materials before you introduce them to smelting or melting furnaces. This will reduce dust emissions.
  • Only melt material which is compatible with your furnace. This will help your furnace to operate efficiently.
  • Maximise the metallic content of the charge material. This will minimise the amount of solid waste material produced and reduce energy use.
  • Only melt clean scrap in your furnace, unless you have registered an exemption with your environmental regulator that allows you to use contaminated scrap.

Waste exemptions for metals production and processing businesses

Dust and fumes

  • Use hooding and bag filters to capture fumes and dust from furnaces. This is particularly important where you charge the furnace, and where you remove molten metal, dross and slag.
  • Minimise transfers of molten metal to reduce emissions. Cover transfer points wherever possible to keep air away from molten metal.
  • Maintain strict temperature control when alloying. This prevents metal fuming.
  • Use automated burner controls to reduce polluting emissions.
  • Remove as much lubricating emulsion as possible before annealing to reduce polluting emissions to air.

Replacing furnaces

  • Replace oil-fired burners with gas or electric alternatives when a furnace reaches the end of its life. This will help you to reduce emissions.
  • Design new plant to reduce and control emissions.

Recovering materials and heat

  • You may be able to recover metals and salts from some slags. This will reduce the amount of waste you produce.
  • You may be able to use steel slag as a secondary aggregate, for example roadstone, if the metal content is not too high. However, steel slag is considered to be a waste so you must comply with appropriate waste regulations, for example you need to transport it using a waste carrier and with a waste transfer note. Contact trade associations such as the British Aggregates Association or the Mineral Products Association for further information on using slag.

British Aggregates Association

Mineral Products Association

  • Blast furnace slag is considered separately to steel slag, and is regarded as a by-product.
  • Use recuperative or regenerative burners to recover heat from exhaust gases.
  • Reduce fuel use by recovering waste heat to use in other parts of your operation.

Your air-conditioning system and refrigeration equipment, including refrigerators used in kitchens and catering facilities or chilled vending machines, may contain hazardous substances, such as ozone depleting substances (ODS) and fluorinated gases (F-gases).

ODS have been banned across the EU but there is a possibility that they remain in some older systems. If released, these chemicals damage the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere.  F-gases are a group of chemicals that can make a significant contribution to global warming, they are very potent greenhouse gases.

Smaller scale air-conditioning units and some heat pumps also contain refrigerants.

This guideline includes information on:

  • Fluorinated gases in refrigeration equipment
  • Ozone depleting substances in refrigeration equipment
  • Air conditioning
  • Other pollutants in refrigeration equipment
  • How to avoid causing a nuisance
  • Energy efficiency of refrigeration equipment
  • New equipment and tax breaks
  • Storing chemicals

Read our guidance on Refrigeration and Air Conditioning

Organic solvents are used in degreasing, dying, coating and finishing. They are also present in many adhesives.

What you must do

You must not use nonylphenol and nonylphenol ethoxylate in concentrations equal to or higher than 0.1% for leather processing (you are most likely to use these if you degrease sheep skin), except for processes where:

  • there is no release to waste water
  • you pretreat the process water to remove the organic fraction completely before biological waste water treatment.

If you carry out dry cleaning, coating of leather or footwear manufacture check whether you are affected by controls on solvent emissions.

Solvent emissions

You must comply with your duty of care responsibilities when dealing with waste.

Duty of care - your waste responsibilities

You may need to deal with the following materials and substances as hazardous/special waste:

  • used solvent
  • solvent containers
  • soiled, solvent-impregnated rags
  • water collected in water and solvent separators.

Hazardous / special waste

Good practice

You may be able to replace solvent-based materials with water-based materials. Although these are not available or appropriate for every application, you should use them when possible.

You should prevent the escape of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to the atmosphere. VOCs can result in the formation of ground-level ozone, an air pollutant harmful to human and animal health, as well as plant life. You can reduce the evaporation of solvent to the environment by:

  • storing organic solvents in light coloured containers away from direct sunlight
  • back venting the solvent tank to the tanker during deliveries and fit pressure relief valves on all tanks
  • minimising turbulence during all transfers of organic solvents
  • putting lids on your solvent containers when you are not using them - this reduces solvent loss
  • using 'squeeze' type bottles for transferring solvent onto rags.

Do not mix different waste solvents as this could be dangerous. It also stops you from reclaiming the solvents.

Whats new on NetRegs

  • Waste – Duty of Care Roles and Responsibilities

    The Northern Ireland Environment Agency has published a short guide to the duty of care responsibilities including advice and information for waste producers, carriers and those accepting, storing and treating waste.

    https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/publications/waste-duty-care-responsibilities

  • Please let us know your thoughts on our new website

    What do you think about our new and improved website. We want your feedback on what you like, what you don’t like and ways we can continue to improve the website. Follow the link to complete the very short survey: NetRegs website – User feedback

  • NEW guidance on Environmental Management Systems

    We have recently updated and improved our guidance on Environmental Management Systems (EMS). You can find the guidance via the Environmental Topics tab or alternatively select the following link Environmental Management Systems (EMS).

  • Consultation on proposed changes to the packaging recycling business targets

    See NI Future legislation or Scotland Future legislation for details of the Consultation

  • NetRegs SMEnvironment survey 2016

    NetRegs has carried out a survey of environmental awareness among SMEs. There are separate reports for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

  • NIEA Guidance - Greenfield Excavated Matrials in Construction

    NIEA and the CEF have developed a Regulatory Position to promote Sustainable re-use of natural excavated material from Greenfield sites.

    NIEA: Guidance on the Regulation of Greenfield Excavated Materials in Construction and Development

  • New GPP 2 Above Ground Oil Storage

    The replacements for the PPGs are being developed. Now available GPP 2 Above Ground Oil Storage

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    SEPA is asking for your views on the proposals for integrated authorisations.

    Consultation documents

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    NetRegs has been nominated for 3 ENDS Awards with the result being revealed on the 4th of May.

  • NetRegs wins an ENDS Environmental Impact Award

    Knowledge development category winners, see the END Awards

  • EIA (Agriculture) Regulations for Northern Ireland

    Any person intending to alter the use or management of areas of uncultivated or semi-natural land must obtain prior approval from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

    Read more on the DAERA website

  • Download our NEW leaflet today: Duty of Care for waste

    NetRegs have produced a new leaflet for Scottish businesses explaining what you must do to comply with YOUR duty of care for waste.

    Duty of Care for waste (Scotland) leaflet (PDF - 775KB)

     

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Permits

NIEA - Apply online

SEPA - Application forms