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NASF Regulatory Alert
EPA PFAS Rule Update:‎
Nationwide Surface Finishing Industry Survey

NASF PFAS Survey Webinar: January 15, 2024‎
Details to Come


We noted in our November update that since White House approval, the U.S. Environmental ‎Protection Agency has been preparing its PFAS survey package to send to nearly 2000 finishing ‎facilities across the U.S. ‎

EPA Survey Process: Reminders

A few important reminders are in order:‎

  • Electronic Survey Format – The EPA package companies will receive will not include ‎a hard-copy survey but will include an access code to complete the survey electronically ‎in a web-based format. ‎
  • Extended Deadline for Response – As we shared earlier, we have requested that the agency ‎provide additional time to the industry to respond to the survey, given the upcoming ‎holiday period, and EPA has indicated it has taken the holidays into consideration and ‎will provide additional time beyond the typical 60-day response period.‎
  • “Off Ramps” in the Survey for Non-Chromium Processes – After agreement from EPA ‎that the proposed rule will apply only to chromium-based processes, EPA has provided ‎assurances that the survey will efficiently allow facilities without chromium-based ‎processes or no wastewater discharge to avoid completing the extensive questions on the ‎survey. Chromate conversion operations at this time are considered chromium-based ‎processes.‎
  • Additional Calendar Considerations – While the agency plans to deliver the survey ‎package in the mid-December timeframe, it is not likely that facilities will receive it on ‎the same day, but we anticipate delivery by the third week of the month.‎

NASF 4th Quarter Public Policy Webinar and January 2024 PFAS Survey Review

Given the likelihood that not all companies will have received the PFAS survey package by ‎December 18th or have had the opportunity to review it properly before the holidays, we will ‎hold an NASF PFAS Survey Review Webinar session on Monday, January 15th. Additional ‎information will be available in the meantime as new information is available.‎

If you have any questions or would like additional information on the survey or the new ‎wastewater discharge rule for PFAS, please contact Jeff Hannapel or Christian Richter with ‎NASF at or ‎







For additional details on EPA enforcement of the TRI Form R Threshold Determinations for Manufactured Metal Compounds in Plating Baths, visit


NASF comments submitted (see attached) on behalf of the membership in response to EPA's draft multi-sector general permit (MSGP) for stormwater discharges from industrial activities, including surface finishing operation These proposed regulatory changes, if enacted, will certainly impact the surface finishing industry.


The Clean Air Act mandates that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must promulgate standards to control the emissions of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) from small or area sources. An area source is a facility that emits less than ten tons per year of a single HAP or less than 25 tons per year of total HAPs. Under the terms of a court order, EPA was required to issue area source emissions standards for plating and polishing operations by June 2008. The order also set a schedule for EPA to issue standards for 54 other area source industry categories. 

On July 1, 2008, EPA published the final regulation for plating and polishing area sources in the Federal Register (73 Fed. Reg. 37728). The final rule, 40 CFR Part 63, Subpart WWWWWW, is effective immediately for new affected sources (i.e., those that begin operations on or after July 1, 2008). Existing plating and polishing operations must comply with the new regulatory requirements by July 1, 2010. 

Plating and Polishing Operations Subject to the Rule

The plating and polishing processes that are subject to the plating and polishing area source rule are those “processes performed at an affected plating and polishing facility that uses or has the potential to emit” any compound of any of the following metal HAPs: cadmium, chromium, lead, manganese and nickel. This includes electrolytic and non-electrolytic plating and coating processes (e.g., electroplating, conversion coating, sealing and phosphating), electroforming, dry mechanical polishing and thermal spray at approximately 2,900 existing plating and polishing facilities.   

The final rule does not apply to the following:

  • Process that are subject to the Chromium MACT standard (40 CFR Part 63, Subpart N);
  • Processes that use cadmium, chromium, lead and nickel in concentrations of less than 0.1 percent by weight and manganese in concentrations of less than 1.0 percent by weight;
  • Processes that use metals other than cadmium, chromium, lead, manganese and nickel;
  • Tanks used strictly for educational purposes;
  • Thermal spraying processes to repair surfaces; and
  • Dry mechanical polishing on a surface prior to plating.

Applicable GACT Standards

The NASF Government Relations (GR) program has been working closely with EPA officials by providing technical information on a variety of plating and polishing processes in developing the final rule. As a result of these efforts, EPA did not establish emission limits for plating and polishing operations, but required plating and polishing facilities to follow management practices as the generally available control technology (GACT) standards. The management practices included using wetting agents in electroplating tanks, and the capture and control of emissions from thermal spraying and dry mechanical polishing.  

According to EPA, additional controls were not necessary because the industry had successfully reduced air emissions through the implementation of management practices and had reduced emissions by 95 percent since 1990. Although EPA does anticipate any further reductions from the rule, the management practices were required to ensure that the reductions would continue. EPA estimates the new standards will cost an average of $1,100 per facility for the first three years.

In response to the industry’s comments, EPA made some clarifications in the regulatory language of the final rule and provided a broader array of management practice options for facilities to implement to comply with the rule. A summary of the major provisions of the final rule is provided below.

Management Practices

All plating processes (both electrolytic and electroless) that use or have the potential to emit any cadmium, chromium, lead, manganese and nickel compound (i.e., metal HAP compounds) must comply with management practices set forth in the final rule. The management practices are provided below as they appear in the final regulation.

(1)    Minimize bath agitation when removing any parts processed in the tank, as practicable, except when necessary to meet part quality requirements.

(2)    Maximize the draining of bath solution back into the tank, as practicable, by extending drip time when removing the tank objects; using drain boards (also known as drip shields); or withdrawing parts slowly from tanks, as practicable.

(3)    Optimize the design of barrels, racks, and parts to minimize dragout of bath solution (such as by using slotted barrels and tilted racks, or by designing parts with flow-through holes to allow the tank solution to drip back into the tank), as practicable.

(4)    Use tank covers, if already owned and available at the facility, whenever practicable (i.e., not during lifting or lowering parts).

(5)    Minimize or reduce heating of process tanks, as practicable (e.g., when doing so would not interrupt production or adversely affect part quality).

(6)    Perform regular repair, maintenance, and preventive maintenance of racks, barrels and other equipment associated with affected sources, as practicable.

(7)    Minimize bath contamination (e.g., through the prevention or quick recovery of dropped parts, use of distilled/de-ionized water, water filtration, pre-cleaning of parts, and thorough rinsing of pre-treated parts), as practicable.

(8)    Maintain quality control of plating chemicals and other bath ingredients concentration in tanks, as practicable.

(9)    Perform good housekeeping (e.g., regular sweeping or vacuuming, if needed, and periodic wash downs), as practicable.

(10)Minimize spills and overflow of tanks, as practicable.

(11)Use squeegee rolls in continuous or reel-to-reel plating tanks, as practicable.

(12)Perform regular inspections to identify leaks and other opportunities for pollution prevention.

In response to NASF comments on the proposed rule, EPA broadened the scope of the management practices in the final rule to reflect the management practices that plating and polishing operations have been implementing to reduce the emission of HAPs. EPA also acknowledged in the preamble to the final rule that not all of the management practices may be practicable for some processes due to production and product quality concerns. To comply with this requirement, facilities must demonstrate that they have implemented management practices that are practicable to continue their on going efforts to reduce HAP emissions from the 1990 levels.

Additional Regulatory Requirements for Specific Plating and Polishing Processes

In addition to the management practices discussed above, the final rule has other regulatory requirements for some specific plating and polishing processes.

Non-Cyanide Electrolytic Processes Operating at a pH of Less Than 12 – Non-cyanide electrolytic processes that operate at a pH of less than 12 and that use or have the potential to emit a metal HAP compound must use a wetting agent or fume suppressant in the bath according to the manufacturer’s specifications and requirements. No additional wetting agents or fume suppressants need to be added beyond the manufacturer’s specifications.

The facility must record that the wetting agent is used according to the manufacturer’s specifications and requirements and the amount and time of when wetting agents are added to replenish the bath. Facilities may also demonstrate compliance by installing an emission control device that achieves equivalent control of metal HAPs.

Flash or Short-Term Electroplating Processes – Flash or short-term electroplating processes that use or have the potential to emit a metal HAP compound (e.g., Woods nickel strike) must limit plating time in that tank to no more than one hour per day or three minutes per hour. The term flash or short-term electroplating is defined as an “electrolytic process that uses or has the potential to emit the metal HAP compounds and that is used no more than three cumulative minutes per hour or no more than one cumulative hour per day.” As an alternative, the facility can use tanks covers on these flash or short-term electroplating processes for 95 percent of the plating time.

Continuous Electrolytic Processes – Facilities that use continuous or reel-to-reel electrolytic plating processes must cover at least 75 percent of the surface of the tank whenever the electrolytic process tank is in operation. Facilities may also use wetting agents and fume suppressants or a control device for these processes as an alternative for compliance.

Cyanide Plating – Facilities that use cyanide in a bath that uses or has the potential to emit metal HAP compounds must measure the pH of the bath upon initial start-up and record the result in the facility’s notice of compliance status. No additional pH measurements are required beyond this one-time measurement.

Dry Mechanical Polishing – Dry mechanical polishing processes that use or have the potential to emit metal HAP compounds must install and operate a particulate matter (PM) capture system with cartridge, fabric or HEPA filter or other equivalent control device. The facility must operate the control device according to manufacturer’s specifications and operating instructions.

Thermal Spray Processes – Thermal spray processes that use or have the potential to emit metal HAP compounds must install and operate a particulate matter (PM) capture system with a water curtain, fabric filter, HEPA filter or equivalent control device. The facility must operate the control device according to manufacturer’s specifications and operating instructions.

Notification and Recordkeeping Requirements

Owners and operators of affected sources must comply with several notification and recordkeeping requirements.

Initial Notification – Facilities subject to the requirements of this rule must submit to EPA or an authorized state an initial notification that includes the name and address of the owner or operator, the location of the facility, the relevant applicable air emission standard for the facility, a brief description of the affected source and the fact that the facility is an area source.  The notification must also include the compliance method for each affected source (e.g., use of wetting agent or control device).  The initial notification must be submitted no later than November 1, 2008.

Notification of Compliance Status -- Facilities subject to the requirements of this rule must submit to EPA or an authorized state a notification of compliance status.  This notification should include a list of the affected sources, the HAPs used or emitted, the methods used to comply with the management practices or equipment standards, a description of the emissions capture and control system (if applicable), and a statement from the facility owner or operator regarding compliance with the applicable standards.  This notification must be submitted before the close of business on the applicable compliance date (e.g., July 1, 2010 for existing sources).

Annual Certification of Compliance -- Facilities subject to the requirements of this rule must submit to EPA or an authorized state an annual certification of compliance.  This certification should include a description of how the facility has complied with the applicable regulatory provisions. The certification should also report any deviations from the compliance requirements during the year and the corrective actions taken to remedy the deviation.

Recordkeeping -- Facilities subject to the requirements of this rule must keep and maintain these records for a minimum of five years.

Title V Permit Exemption

The final regulation also includes an exemption from federal Title V permit requirements for plating and polishing area sources subject to the provisions of this rule.  This exemption is intended to avoid unnecessary duplication and administrative burden, particularly for small businesses impacted by this rule.


A copy of the final rule is available on the NASF website at  Over the next several months, NASF will be working with EPA officials to develop compliance guidance for the final plating and polishing area source rule.  If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact Christian Richter of Jeff Hannapel at or