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BOARD MEETING DATE: October 1, 2010


Proposed Rule 1420.1 – Emissions Standard for Lead from Large Lead-acid Battery Recycling Facilities


On October 15, 2008 the U.S. EPA amended the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for Lead. The standard has been lowered from 1.5 µg/m3 to 0.15 µg/m3 in order to provide an adequate margin of safety that would ensure the protection of public health. Based on current monitoring data, large lead-acid battery recycling facilities are one of the largest sources of lead. Proposed Rule 1420.1 establishes additional requirements for large lead-acid battery recycling facilities to meet attainment of the new NAAQS for lead.


Stationary Source, November 20, 2009, April 16, 2010, May 21, 2010, June 18, 2010, July 23, 2010, September 24, 2010, Reviewed 


Adopt the attached resolution:

  1. Certifying the Final Environmental Assessment (EA) for Proposed Rule 1420.1 – Emissions Standard for Lead from Large Lead-acid Battery Recycling Facilities; and

  2. Adopting Proposed Rule 1420.1 – Emissions Standard for Lead from Large Lead-acid Battery Recycling Facilities.

Barry R. Wallerstein, D.Env.
Executive Officer


The federal Clean Air Act requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for criteria pollutants. On October 15, 2008, the U.S. EPA amended the NAAQS for lead from 1.5 µg/m3 to 0.15 µg/m3. Based on review of new health studies, the U.S. EPA has determined that a primary and secondary standard of 0.15 µg/m3 is requisite to provide an adequate margin of safety that would ensure the protection of the environment and public health regarding health effects from lead exposure.

In 1992, the AQMD’s Governing Board adopted Rule 1420 – Emissions Standard for Lead which applies to facilities that use or process lead, including large lead acid-battery recycling facilities. Rule 1420 requires affected facilities to meet a lead emission standard of 1.5 µg/m3, vent point sources to an emissions collection system, and to submit a compliance plan providing information about the amount of lead processed and emission estimates.

Basin’s Attainment Status

The California Air Resources Board has recommended to U.S. EPA that the South Coast Air Basin (Basin) portion of Los Angeles County be designated as non-attainment for the 2008 lead NAAQS based on data from monitors near lead-acid battery recycling facilities in the Basin. Final designation of attainment status for the Basin by the U.S. EPA is expected by October 15, 2010. The 2008 lead NAAQS requires attainment by each state no later than five years with three years of clean data after final designations are received.

Health Effects of Lead

Over the past two decades, more than 6,000 new studies on lead health effects have been published showing that adverse effects occur at much lower levels of lead in the blood than previously thought. Lead is a criteria pollutant and is also identified as a carcinogenic toxic air contaminant by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. Chronic health effects include problems such as nervous and reproductive system disorders, neurological and respiratory damage, cognitive and behavioral changes, and hypertension. Exposure to lead can also potentially increase the risk of contracting cancer or result in other adverse health effects. Young children are especially susceptible to the effects of environmental lead, both from inhalation and ingestion, because their bodies accumulate lead more readily than do those of adults, and because they are more vulnerable to certain biological effects of lead including learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and deficits in IQ.

Affected Industry

Based on annual facility reports for lead emissions received for AQMD’s Annual Emissions Reporting Program, the AQMD staff has determined that the lead-acid battery recycling industry is the highest stationary source of lead emissions in the Basin. Based on available monitoring data, staff’s analysis has also shown that this industry currently demonstrates ambient air lead concentration measurements that cause non-attainment with the new lead NAAQS. Pursuant to California Health & Safety Code §40001(a), the AQMD is required to adopt and enforce rules and regulations to achieve and maintain federal ambient air quality standards in all areas affected by emission sources under their jurisdiction. Therefore, the purpose of Proposed Rule 1420.1 (PR 1420.1) is to set additional requirements for large lead-acid battery recycling facilities to address the amended NAAQS for lead and help ensure that the Basin can achieve the revised standard.

PR 1420.1 applies to large lead-acid battery recycling facilities. There are currently two facilities within the AQMD that the proposed rule will apply to: Exide Technologies in the city of Vernon and Quemetco, Inc. in the City of Industry. These two facilities are the only large lead-acid battery recyclers in the state of California and in the western United States, with the next nearest large lead-acid battery recycling facility located in Texas. These facilities receive spent lead-acid batteries and other lead-bearing materials, recycle them, and recover the lead.

The provisions of PR 1420.1 are in addition to Rule 1420 – Emissions Standard for Lead. Rule 1420 is planned for a future amendment to address other lead sources in the Basin and the 2008 NAAQS for lead.


PR 1420.1 applies to lead-acid battery recycling facilities that process or have ever processed 50,000 tons of lead annually. The purpose of the proposed rule is to protect public health and establish requirements that will help ensure that the Basin meets attainment status with the 2008 NAAQS for lead. As a result, the rule proposes:

  • An ambient air lead concentration standard of 0.15 µg/m3 averaged over any 30 consecutive days effective January 1, 2012;

  • Requirements to reduce lead point source emissions through:

    • a total facility mass lead emission rate of 0.045 lb/hr;

    • a maximum lead emission rate of 0.01 lb/hr for any lead point source;

    • secondary lead control devices on dryers; and

    • use of high efficiency bags and filters for lead control devices;

  • Requirements to reduce fugitive lead emissions through:

    • total enclosures of process areas used in the lead-acid battery recycling operation;

    • housekeeping requirements including periodic cleanings of facility grounds, rooftops, and surface impoundments; storage and transport requirements for lead-containing materials; and

    • requirements for lead abatement procedures when conducting specific types of maintenance activity;

  • Submittal of a “Contingency” Compliance Plan if the facility approaches 80 percent of the ambient air lead concentration standard on and after July 1, 2011, containing additional lead emission reduction measures. The plan would only be implemented if the facility exceeds an ambient air lead concentration of 0.15 µg/m3;

  • Public notification of unplanned shutdown of any lead control device, planned turnaround or shutdown, and specific maintenance activities; and

  • Additional requirements for source testing, ambient air concentration monitoring, siting for new facilities, public notifications, reporting, and recordkeeping.

Public Process

A PR 1420.1 Working Group was formed to provide an opportunity to discuss the proposed rule in greater detail and provide input to the AQMD staff throughout the rule development process. The working group was comprised of a variety of stakeholders including representatives and consultants for the regulated industry; other agency representatives; environmental and community representatives; and other interested parties. The Working Group met three times during the rule development process on April 22, 2010, May 18, 2010, and August 24, 2010. In addition, a Public Workshop was held on April 14, 2010, and updates to the Stationary Source Committee were presented throughout the rule development process.

Key Outstanding Issues

Proposed Rule 1420.1 Approach

One PR 1420.1 facility has commented that the approach of the proposed rule should be based on a compliance plan with no core requirements. This approach would be similar to Rule 1420. Facilities would implement a compliance plan and be required to achieve the ambient air quality standard. Past experience with Rule 1420 shows that a compliance plan approach alone is not sufficient to demonstrate compliance with the lead ambient air quality standard. Moreover, with the more stringent lead standard, even greater assurances in the specificity of the control measures is needed.  

Lower Lead Point Source Emission Rate from 0.045 lbs/hr to 0.003 lbs/hr

One PR 1420.1 facility has requested that the lead point source emission rate be lowered from 0.045 lbs/hr to 0.003 lbs/hr. The AQMD staff appreciates the investment in pollution control equipment that this facility has installed. Pollution control equipment was installed primarily for compliance with the AB2588 Toxics Hot Spots program to control other toxic metals to reduce their cancer burden, which concurrently reduced lead emissions.

Based on point source modeling, the AQMD staff believes that it is possible that the other lead-acid battery recycling facility can achieve the new lead standard through controlling lead point source emissions to 0.045 lbs/hr and strict adherence to housekeeping provisions of PR 1420.1. At this point, there is not sufficient information to substantiate the need to require this facility to go beyond an expected 99% reduction at an additional cost of $15 to $20 million. The ambient monitors will be the ultimate test of compliance. If this facility’s lead concentration approaches 80% of the new standard, they will be required to submit a Compliance Plan that will identify additional lead point source controls and housekeeping provisions.

Allow Use of Alternative Stack Geometries to Achieve Lead Point Source Emission Rate

One PR 1420.1 facility has expressed concern that the facility-wide lead emission rate of 0.045 lbs/hr only considers alternate emission rate scenarios to achieve compliance and does not allow the possibility of alternate stack geometries. This facility believes that “the problem with these stacks is NOT that their emissions are too great or any way indicative of inadequate control effectiveness, but that they are simply too short.”

Based on careful review of source tests from this facility, the AQMD staff believes that the “problem” is that emissions are too great from some of the lead point sources. It is the AQMD staff’s understanding that this facility would like to have the flexibility of reducing their fence line lead concentration by increasing their stack height to increase dispersion of emissions. The AQMD staff disagrees with this approach as it does not reduce lead emissions. Additional lead controls will be needed to achieve the new lead standard of 0.15 µg/m3. Also, Clean Air Act Section 123 prohibits the use of excessive stack height or other dispersion technique in lieu of reducing emissions. 

PR 1420.1 Violation Funds for Mitigation in Impacted Community

Environmental and community groups requested that monies collected from violations of PR 1420.1 be used for mitigation projects in communities impacted by the violation. Traditionally the AQMD staff seeks to implement programs and projects in highly impacted areas. To the extent feasible, the AQMD staff will continue to seek opportunities to use monies to fund programs and projects in highly impacted areas.

Requirement for Additional Monitors Funded by Affected Facility and Operated by the AQMD

One PR 1420.1 facility has requested that the proposed rule include a provision that would require facilities to fund the installation, operation, and maintenance of three to four additional monitors that would be operated by the AQMD. These monitors would be in addition to the monitors operated by the affected facilities and the monitors managed by the AQMD staff for compliance with the NAAQS. The AQMD staff appreciates this request, however, the AQMD staff believes that the existing monitoring network for both affected facilities is sufficient. There are currently four facility-operated monitors and one AQMD-operated monitor at Quemetco, and six facility-operated monitors and two AQMD-operated monitors at Exide. If new information shows a need, additional monitors can be installed.

AQMP and Legal Mandates

Pursuant to Health & Safety Code Section 40460 (a), the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) is required to adopt an Air Quality Management Plan (AQMP) demonstrating compliance with all federal regulations and standards such as the lead NAAQS for the Basin. The AQMD is required to adopt rules and regulations that carry out the objectives of the AQMP. The proposed rule will be a part of the State Implementation Plan that outlines the strategy to demonstrate attainment with the lead NAAQS. The lead emission reductions from this proposed rule will help achieve compliance with the 2008 federal ambient air quality standard for lead.

California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

The AQMD, as lead agency, prepared a Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) pursuant to CEQA Guidelines §15252 for Proposed Rule 1420.1. No significant adverse environmental impact was identified.  The Draft EA was released for a 30-day public review and comment period beginning on April 27, 2010 and ending on January May 26, 2010.  No comments were received.

Subsequent to the public circulation of the Draft EA for proposed project, Proposed Rule 1420.1 was modified. The modifications were analyzed and AQMD staff concluded that recirculation was not necessary per CEQA Guidelines §15073.5, because the modifications were determined not to be a substantial revision (i.e., a new, avoidable significant effect that requires mitigation measure or project revisions to reduce the effect to insignificance or that project effects cannot be reduced to insignificant and new measures or project revisions are required).

Socioeconomic Assessment

PR 1420.1 will implement the latest amendments to the federal NAAQS for Lead, as adopted by the U.S. EPA on October 15, 2008. PR 1420.1 would also propose additional provisions beyond the NAAQS which include total enclosures, installation of secondary lead control devices on dryers, detailed housekeeping requirements, increased monitoring, and annual emissions testing of lead control devices. The total annual cost for both facilities to comply with PR 1420.1 is estimated at $0.41 million for the first year, and $0.32 million annually thereafter. Some requirements of PR 1420.1 are currently being implemented by both facilities due to conditions found in Rule 1420 compliance plans or orders for abatement, and the costs assessed for compliance with these requirements are not included in the assessment. The socioeconomic assessment was made available to the public at least 30 days prior to the Public Hearing and is included as part of the Public Hearing package.

Implementation and Resource Impact

Existing AQMD resources will be used to implement Proposed Rule 1420.1. 

Attachments (EXE, 1.9m)

  1. Summary of Proposal

  2. Issues and Responses

  3. Rule Development Process

  4. Key Contacts List

  5. Resolution

  6. Proposed Rule 1420.1 Rule Language

  7. Proposed Rule 1420.1 Staff Report

  8. Socioeconomic Assessment

  9. Final Environmental Assessment

This page updated: September 28, 2010