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Companies must start complying in a workable time frame
It was an ecology lesson that Paul Billoni won't soon forget, and it came while driving his 7-year-old son to school.
"We happened to be behind a bus and you could really smell it. I said, 'Geez, Chris, do you smell that bus?' And he said, 'Now you know how the animals feel, Dad.'"
Billoni, president of Colvin Cleaners, considers himself up to speed on environmental issues, but he says he was stunned into an even greater consciousness by the boy's simple yet powerful statement.
Environmental awareness has been the name of the game for many years, but for many small-business owners in New York affected by the Clean Air Act amendments of 1990, it's fast becoming a matter of law.
The amendments were designed to enhance public health and protect the environment for future generations. At the same time, their complex requirements can present an implemental challenge to small companies in communities with air pollution problems. Many will be affected by aspects of the law that deal with accidental and routine releases of toxic air pollutants, stratospheric ozone protection and operating permits.
"The Clean Air Act, when originally started, was aimed at the major polluters, major industry," says Donald Dustin, a certified industrial hygienist with Ecology and Environment Inc., Lancaster. "Major emissions that could have impacts both in terms of short distances in their plant and also downwind a long range.
"Now, with the amendments, there's a recognition that there are more compounds in smaller quantities that can have an impact on people and the environment," says Dustin, who heads the company's air specialists department. "A lot of small businesses are going to be potentially impacted."
Air pollution already had reached dangerous levels in many areas of the country when the first federal Clean Air Act became law in 1970. Major amendments to strengthen the act were added in 1977, and again in 1990.
Among other provisions, the act places new …