Air quality for machinery or electrical equipment businesses
Businesses that manufacture, assemble or service machinery or electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) may emit dust, fumes and gases which cause air pollution.
If your business uses solvents, see our guidance on solvent emissions.
What you must do
Comply with your permit, licence or exemption
If your business has a permit, licence or registered exemption you must comply with its conditions. If you do not comply with conditions you can be fined or sent to prison.
Your permit, licence or exemption may have conditions that control the quantity and concentration of your emissions of:
- odour oxides of nitrogen (NOx)
- oxides of sulphur (SOx)
- halogens, eg chlorine, fluorine, bromine
- volatile organic compounds (VOCs), eg formaldehyde, phenols.
Your machinery or EEE business may produce:
- odour from VOCs
- dust and fumes from welding and handling materials.
If your activities create levels of dust or odour that disturbs your neighbours, your local council can issue you with an abatement notice that:
- requires you to reduce the nuisance
- stops or places restrictions on your operations
- requires you to carry out work, or take other steps to reduce or stop the nuisance from reoccurring.
Anyone affected by the nuisance, such as your neighbours, can apply to the court in Northern Ireland or the sheriff in Scotland to issue you with an abatement notice. You can be fined if you do not comply with an abatement notice, and your local authority can take steps to stop the nuisance and charge you for its costs.
For further information on nuisance, see our guidance on noise, odour and other nuisances.
Prevent dark smoke
You must not emit dark smoke from:
- chimneys of any building
- chimneys serving furnaces, fixed boilers or industrial plant, whether they are attached to buildings or not
- any industrial or trade premises.
Smoke is considered 'dark' if it has a shade of two or darker on the Ringlemann chart. You can find the Ringelmann chart in British Standard BS2742C.
For further information, see our guidance on air pollution from furnaces, boilers and bonfires.
Check the sulphur content of your fuel
You must check the content of sulphur in your petroleum-based fuels, particularly any standby fuel you have stored for a long period of time. You must not use:
- gas oil with a sulphur content of more than 0.1% by mass
- heavy fuel oil with a sulphur content of more than 1% by mass.
There are some exceptions to this restriction. For further information on the restrictions, contact your environmental regulator.
Check if you use ozone depleting substances or fluorinated gases
Many ODS are banned. Ozone depleting substances (ODS) include:
- hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)
- chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
- 1,1,1 trichloroethane
- carbon tetrachloride.
Fluorinated gases (F-gases) are powerful greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming and climate change.
If your business uses or handles ODS or F-gases read our guidance on ozone depleting substances and fluorinated gases.
Reduce emissions to air from your site
- Lay a hard surface on roads and storage areas at your site to reduce your dust emissions.
- Collect rainwater from your roof and use this to dampen dusty areas of your site. Use sustainable drainage systems to collect run-off so that you do not cause water pollution.
- Limit the number of points on your site where you transfer materials to minimise dust.
- Store your oil, fuel, solvents and chemicals in suitable, sealed containers. This will help you to avoid causing air pollution from fumes.
- Use extraction units to remove dust and other emissions from your operations. Filter the extracted air before you release it into the atmosphere.
- Reduce your vehicle emissions.
Be a good operator
- Maintain a high standard of housekeeping at your site. This could help you reduce dust and other nuisances.
- Clean and maintain your equipment regularly to ensure that it is working efficiently.
- Allow good airflow through your production and working environment. Use airflow measurement equipment to monitor your airflow.
- When you buy new plant or equipment ensure that it has emission reduction features.
- Monitor dust and other air emissions at your site regularly.
Be a good neighbour
- Speak to your neighbours regularly about any issues with dust or other air emissions at your site.
- Deal with any complaints about air emissions quickly. Record the results of investigations into complaints and anything you do to correct the problem.