1st April 2020

ONTARIO MOVES AHEAD ON AIR STANDARDS

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment is continuing to progress with its Metal Finishers Industry Standards and Registration Process. This program was initiated in 2011, at the instigation of the Canadian Association for Surface Finishing (CASF). The Ministry is developing a technical standard to address challenges in meeting air standards for hexavalent chromium compounds, and has also added nickel and nickel compounds at CASF’s request. The new air standards are slated to come into effect on July 1 next year.

Kelly Miki, an air pollution control engineer with the Ministry, told CASF’s 2015 Conference on November 18 that the process is now at the point of consulting on the technical standard. The Ministry also gained considerable understanding of the manufacturing processes that need to be monitored.

“General exhaust,” she noted, “was found to be a major source of pollutants with nickel.” With chromium, it tends to be the exhausts from decorative electroplating and hard electroplating processes, then general ventilation and atmospheric ventilators. The plating efficiency of nickel, at 97 percent, is significantly higher than that for electroplated hexavalent chrome compounds, which is at between 10 and 20 percent.

“You need to understand the air-pressure in your building,” Miki noted. “For example, you need negative pressure in certain areas, and you need to maintain your ventilation systems. Also, you need to maintain drawings of the system – that’s something I found to be very important when I worked inside a plant myself.”

Additionally, there needs to be a designated ventilation coordinator, to avoid buck-passing when an issue arises. This individual needs a table of in- and out-flows, and has to keep assessing changes that are made to the ventilation system.

Lastly, there needs to be a ‘no backsliding’ rule in place so that there is no degradation of air-pollution controls in place at the time of a company’s registration.

In Ontario, about 60 per cent of the industry using Cr (VI) is in the Toronto, Barrie, Halton-Peel and York-Durham regions. Most are job-shops with dedicated buildings of their own, but up to 25 percent could be in industrial malls or multi-tenant buildings. This latter group will likely require modified regulations to ensure the safety of neighboring companies.

Proposed overall requirements for chromium compounds at this point will call for the use of local exhaust ventilation and an air-pollution control device; use of fume suppressants; and use of a tank cover. For nickel and nickel compounds, they will call for local exhaust ventilation and an air-pollution control device, or use of wetting agents. The specified technologies for new processes, which result in increased production capacity, will be more stringent.

http://www.ontario.ca/page/environmental-approvals

www.CASF.ca