Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Air quality at chemical plants

Air quality at chemical businesses

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.

 

SEE ALSO: Chemicals manufacturing, Preventing air pollution, Solvent emissions

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Permits

NIEA - Apply online

SEPA - Application forms