Chemical manufacturing pollution prevention

Chemical manufacturing and air pollution


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

Emissions to air or odours can result from:

  • reaction or distillation facilities
  • combustion plant
  • products used in specific chemical processes, eg chlorophenols
  • storing raw materials such as solvents, eg ethyl acetate, toluene and xylene
  • using certain chemical groups, eg volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or sulfurous compounds
  • waste and wastewater treatment processes

Comply with your permit conditions

If you have a pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit, you must meet the conditions it contains.

Your permit may contain conditions relating to odour and emissions to air, including controls on substances such as:

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

If you use organic solvents, you must comply with further requirements. These will reduce or control your solvent emissions.

Prevent odour and nuisance

You must make sure your activities don't cause a nuisance to your neighbours or the local community. Nuisances could include smoke, dust and odour. Anyone affected by a nuisance can take legal action against you or your business, or complain to your district council.

If your business causes a nuisance, or could cause or repeat a nuisance, you can be issued with an abatement notice, which can:

  • stop or restrict your operations
  • require you to take steps to restrict or remove the nuisance

You can be fined if you do not comply with an abatement notice.

See noise, odour and other nuisances.

Meet ozone-depleting substance (ODS) or fluorinated gas (F-gas) requirements

If your business supplies or handles ODS or F-gases, or uses equipment that contains them, you must comply with a number of legal obligations - see chemical manufacturer responsibilities for ozone-depleting substance and F-gases.

Avoid emitting dark smoke

You must not cause or allow a chimney or bonfire on your site to emit dark smoke. You can apply for an exemption from this requirement when burning certain waste materials in the open, eg waste explosives. You must still comply with any other legislation that covers these activities - see burning waste.

Good practice

Take simple steps to reduce dust, odours and fumes to help you avoid causing air pollution.

  • Store loose materials either indoors or under cover. Store oil and chemicals in suitable, sealed containers and make sure that lids fit tightly.
  • Make sure the seals in your equipment fit properly and are in good condition, eg around valves and flanges.
  • Establish systems to monitor, measure, control and minimise solvent emissions.
  • Install chemical recovery systems to capture chemicals in exhaust gases.
  • Use extraction units to remove dust and odour from your operations and filter the extracted air before you release it into the atmosphere.
  • Regularly inspect and maintain all abatement equipment, such as scrubbers, carbon filters and dust filters, to ensure your equipment runs efficiently. Make regular visual inspections of your emissions to air and keep inspection records on your site.
  • Ensure that roads and any open storage areas are hard-surfaced. Clean these regularly to reduce dust.
  • Cover skips and lorries leaving your site.