Regulated Activities

Why does SWCAA regulate air contaminants?

SWCAA regulates air contaminant emissions in order to keep our air clean and healthy. Prolonged exposure to certain air contaminants has been shown to adversely impact human health. In addition, high levels of air contaminants can cause crop damage and deterioration of natural resources. SWCAA's regulations, policies, and programs are designed to maintain air quality standards, protect human health, prevent injury to plant and animal life, and protect the area's panoramic views for-current and future generations.

What kinds of activities emit air contaminants?

A wide range of everyday activities emit air contaminants to the air we breathe. Examples of activities that emit air contaminants include: driving your automobile, woodworking, spray painting, dry cleaning, gasoline dispensing, and fuel combustion.

What kinds of activities are regulated by SWCAA?

Pursuant to the Washington Clean Air Act (RCW 70.94), SWCAA has the authority to regulate a broad range of air contaminant emitting activities. Most of those regulated activities fall within one of the following categories:

  • Industrial or "stationary" sources of air contaminants with potential air contaminant emissions greater than 1 ton per year; less if a toxic air pollutant;
  • Asbestos projects including demolition, handling, and disposal;
  • Wood stoves; and
  • outdoor burning.

SWCAA does not have regulatory authority over the following categories unless directly delegated by the appropriate agency:

  • Sources which the Department of Ecology has assumed jurisdiction over via separate regulation;
  • Sources under the jurisdiction of the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC); and
  • Automobiles, trucks, aircraft, pulp mills, and primary aluminum reduction facilities.

How are activities regulated?

SWCAA has adopted regulations specific to each category of regulated activities. These regulations provide support for SWCAA's mission of protecting local air quality. SWCAA currently administers the following regulatory programs for the activities discussed above:

Industrial or "Stationary" Sources: Air contaminant emitting activities which meet the definition of "stationary source" are regulated through a system of registration in accordance with the provisions of the Washington Clean Air Act (RCW 70.94.151) and SWCAA 400-100 "Registration Requirements and Operating Permit Fees". Registration of air contaminant activities makes it possible to maintain an accurate record of air contaminant emissions, and judge the effectiveness of air pollution control strategies. New source review of air contaminant activities also allows SWCAA to verify that air contaminant activities are in compliance with applicable air pollution control regulations.

Asbestos Projects: SWCAA has developed regulations (SWCAA 476) consistent with the federal rules at 40 CFR 61 that require written notice be submitted to SWCAA before starting any demolition or renovation project. Notification is required to provide for removal of friable asbestos prior to starting a project. Asbestos removal and demolition or renovation projects, includes the handling and disposal of asbestos containing materials. Asbestos activities should also be coordinated with the Washington
Department of Labor and Industries.

Wood Stoves: SWCAA assists the Department of Ecology in implementing a statewide wood smoke control program. This program requires installation of certified stoves, prohibits the use of wet wood fuel, and limits smoke density to 20% opacity. Provisions are available to impose local bum bans when wood smoke pollution is at unsafe levels.

Outdoor burning: SWCAA regulates outdoor burning through a comprehensive permit
program established in SWCAA 425 "outdoor burning". The bum permit program is administered in cooperation with local counties, cities, fire districts, and conservation districts through a program of self-issued residential outdoor purning permits and site-specific land clearing permits. SWCAA 425 prohibits outdoor burning within the boundaries of the Vancouver/Portland ozone nonattainment area and in areas where reasonable alternatives are available. SWCAA 425 also prohibits the outdoor burning of specific materials such as garbage, dead animals, and plastic. The following forms of outdoor burning are exempt from the permit provisions of SWCAA 425:

  • Agricultural burning
  • Recreational fires
  • Ceremonial fires
  • Burning to improve and maintain fire dependent ecosystems