Air Toxics Update

Air Toxics Update

Today I wanted to share some important updates on regulating toxic air contaminants in our state. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is currently working to implement a new program to monitor, identify, and regulate these hazardous pollutants based on legislation I sponsored in 2022. 

Read on for more details about the program timeline, upcoming community engagement opportunities, and the latest from the EPA.

Exposure to toxic air contaminants continues to be a significant concern in Colorado. Toxic air contaminants (TACs) — including chemicals like benzene, hydrogen cyanide, chromium, and ethylene oxide — are emitted from industrial facilities across the state. These pollutants can cause cancer or serious health impacts such as breathing difficulty, nausea, birth defects, or even death. While there are regulations related to greenhouse gases and ground-level ozone, many hazardous air pollutants remain largely unregulated.

That’s why I ran HB22-1244, also referred to as the 2022 Air Toxics Act, to create a program that regulates TACs, reduces emissions, improves air quality, and protects the health of our communities.

As part of this program, TACs will be: 

Reported: The Air Toxic Emissions Reporting Program requires some sources of pollutants to submit annual reports to CDPHE. These reports will be available to the public.

Monitored: The Toxic Air Contaminant Monitoring Program will set up 6 long-term monitoring sites across the state. These sites will measure ambient levels of benzene, formaldehyde, ethylene oxide, and dozens of other air toxics.

Identified: Up to five priority air contaminants will be identified. This will include feedback from the scientific community.

Regulated: The division will establish health-based standards and emission controls for identified priority toxic air contaminants. This will require the biggest polluters to install new technologies to reduce their negative impacts on nearby communities.

The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) is currently working to implement the program, so I wanted to provide some information on this process and an opportunity to provide feedback. 

Opportunity for Public Engagement

The Division is currently seeking input to help inform the location of the six monitoring sites. Priority will be given to sites within disproportionately impacted (DI) communities, and include both urban and rural areas. 

Two virtual community outreach sessions are coming up in the next few months. Use these as an opportunity to ask questions, provide feedback, and let them know why a monitoring site is needed in your community. 

Here are the dates and links to register: 

Tuesday, November 14, 2023, 6:00-8:00 pm

Saturday, December 9, 2023, 10:00 am-12 p.m.

Air Toxics Program Timeline

The table below outlines the implementation timeline for the Toxic Air Contaminant Monitoring Program. 

October 1, 2022Air Pollution Control Division (APCD) posted an initial list of covered TACs. This list was revised in June 2023 and you can view it here
January 1, 2024 Monitoring program of TACs begins; first 3 monitoring sites established.
June 30, 2024Owners and operators of major and synthetic minor sources begin submitting annual toxic emissions reports to CDPHE.
April 30, 2025 Commission adopts rules identifying 5 priority TACs.
July 1, 2025 Final 3 monitoring sites established.
October 1, 2025 Division prepares a report summarizing the findings of the monitoring program.
December 31, 2025Needs Assessment for Air Permitting Program.
April 30, 2026 Establishment of Health Based Standards and Controls for Priority TACs.
September 30, 2029AQCC reviews priority TAC list and determines whether to add additional TACs and associated health-based standards.

For more information on Air Toxics, check out CDPHE’s webpage.  

You can also subscribe for updates here

Latest Updates from the EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering a proposal that would revise the Air Emissions Reporting Requirements rule, which requires states to report emissions of common air pollutants, to include air toxics. While most states voluntarily report some air toxics emissions data to EPA now, that reporting is not consistent nationwide.

The proposed rule would require about 130,000 facilities to report their air toxics emissions directly to the EPA. States would also have the option to collect air toxics data from industries and submit it to the EPA, subject to the Agency’s approval. To make things easier for small businesses, certain small businesses would only need to report the total emissions of each air toxic, instead of providing more detailed information.

You can read the full proposal here and provide public comment here. Submissions will be accepted until November 17th, 2023.

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