The Pollution Control industry was largely initiated by the passing of the Clean Air Act of 1955 and its subsequent updates in 1963, 1970, and 1990. During this time, the EPA has defined two types of emissions that must be controlled, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs). VOCs are organic compounds (i.e., compounds containing carbon) that exist in gaseous form at room temperature and atmospheric pressure. VOCs are found in a variety of industrial applications including, pharmaceutical production, painting, chemical production, and furniture manufacturing among many others. VOCs are released in these processes as they are volatile and easily evaporated making them difficult to contain. The reason for regulation of these compounds is their involvement in the formation of ground level ozone and their contributing factor to the depletion of the ozone layer.
HAPs are categorized as chemicals that are known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious health effects, such as reproductive or birth defects, or adverse environmental effects. At this time, the number of HAPs categorized by the EPA totals 188. This number may change as compounds are added or removed from the HAPs listing.
Through the enactment of the Clean Air Act, the EPA has published industry specific standards which are summarized HERE The EPA and regional air quality control districts also implement specific requirements for emitters based on their levels of emission, location, and emission type.
In order to meet the varied environmental regulations requiring destruction or removal of VOCs and HAPs, several control technologies have been developed. The most widely used technologies include thermal oxidation, concentrators, carbon adsorption, solvent recovery, and condensation. Below are brief reviews of each of these technologies: