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Best Practices for the Chemical Industry

  • • Automate processes to optimize the use of the raw materials and reduce waste.
  • • Improve catalysts to produce better products while reducing heavy metal use and reduce hazardous waste.
  • • Re-use byproducts instead of creating new products out of raw materials.
  • • Use a vapor recovery system to vent equipment to recover solvents.
  • • Substitute less toxic materials for more toxic materials.
  • • Keep amounts of raw materials to a minimum and use rapidly to avoid waste.
  • • Use recyclable containers.
  • • Use water-based biodegradable cleaners where possible.
  • • Avoid unneeded cleaning.
  • • Use dry clean-up methods where possible when spills occur.
  • • Use a precise inspection and preventive maintenance program on a regular basis.
  • • Cover chemical containers to reduce potential leaks, spills, and evaporation.
  • • Use a spill response team to accurately and quickly remove potential hazards.
  • • Train all employees in working skills and safety procedures.
  • • Develop appropriate timely inspection procedures for determining if equipment is leaking and make appropriate corrections.
  • • Keep appropriate records of the equipment, leaking times, and sites.
  • • Use preventive maintenance where appropriate to keep equipment from leaking.
  • • Determine if industrial flares are operating appropriately on a timely basis and take corrective action when necessary.
  • • Use the 12 principles of green chemistry: prevent waste; maximize consumption of all of the raw materials; use less hazardous chemicals; design safer chemicals and products; use less hazardous solvents; avoid unwanted reactions without using additional chemicals; make the process energy efficient; use renewable feed stocks; use catalytic reactions that are effective; design products to degrade to harmless substances over time; analyze the process to prevent pollution; and minimize potential for accidents. (See endnote 31.)
  • 5. Controlled Burns (See endnotes 49, 50)

Controlled burns are used in forestry and agriculture to get rid of unwanted material in an efficient manner. Modern grasslands management includes prescribed burning which controls woody and herbaceous plants and improves the distribution of grazing areas, increases forage yield, and improves wildlife habitat. The time of the year of the burn is based on the types of grasses and undesirable plants and other materials that you want to get rid of quickly, and the type of grasses you are trying to stimulate. The time of the day of the burn as well as actual weather conditions can be contributing factors increasing air pollution problems. Controlled burns can cause forest fires when the conditions are such that they can no longer be controlled in an appropriate manner.

Burning creates particulate matter (smoke, ash, dust), nitrogen oxides, VOCs, and other air pollutants. Ozone becomes a key pollutant in downwind areas from the fires. Massive fires that may occur in oil refineries and other industries as well as train derailments involving tanker cars contribute immediate concentrated pollutants into the air. These may become an intense acute source of potential disease problems, and also become chronic in nature over time.

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