Back to Solutions Page

Gossman Consulting, Inc

The Added Risk to Health, Safety and the
Due to the BIF Regulation

David L. Constans
Engineering Consultant - Gossman Consulting, Inc.

David G. Gossman
President - Gossman Consulting, Inc.

Presented at the AWMA International Specialty Conference on Waste Combustion in Boilers and Industrial Furnaces March, 1995


This paper discusses the added risk to health, safety and the environment required by the execution of the BIF regulation. Health and safety risks include the requirement to spike carcinogenic metal compounds such as beryllium and hexavalent chromium, neither of which has been demonstrated to be present in significant quantities in cement kiln feeds, including waste fuels. Risks in conducting the testing due to potential exposure to spiking solutions and hazardous materials during sample collection is addressed. This paper also discusses the increased risks to human health and safety due to the extreme interpretation of the BIF regulations by the EPA Regional offices and state regulators that exceed the BIF requirements. Finally, the significant increases in emissions of a variety of pollutants under EPA "worst case conditions" add unneeded pollutants to the environment.


The EPA has been proposed for elevation to cabinet status. Part of the proposed bill that would elevate the EPA to that status would require the EPA to perform an impact or overall risk study for each proposed regulation. In February and March of 1993 the congressional committee discussions on this subject became quite contentious and the bill was shelved. If such a risk analysis of the Boiler and Industrial Furnace (BIF) regulation had been conducted, what factors should have been included in the study? Did the implementation of BIF bring about an improvement to human health and environment, or did it merely increase risk for a segment of the population for no discernable improvement to the nation as a whole?


EPA's stated purpose for the BIF regulation was to control the use of hazardous waste as fuel in boilers and industrial furnaces. Such regulation included controls on the emissions of organic compounds, toxic metals, hydrogen chloride, chlorine and particulate matter. The Preamble to BIF specifically stated the pollution prevention impact of this rule: "This rule provides an incentive to reduce the generation of metal and chlorine bearing hazardous waste at the source given that metals and chlorine controls will be implemented . . . i.e. feed rate limits for individual metals and total chlorine." Further stating: "Rather, the controls are health-based and, thus provide limits on the emissions rates of metals and HCl that would be implemented by feed rate limits."(1) Clearly the EPA was promulgating the BIF regulation based on improving human health and safety. Such an improvement in human health and safety, at least for cement kilns burning hazardous waste, is not evident. Indeed, once the increased risks of implementing the BIF regulation are considered there is a discernable negative impact on the human health and environment.


The easiest way to illustrate the increased risk activities required by BIF is to discuss the various compliance requirements in the regulation. Completing the paperwork to document compliance with the Precompliance Certification required the collection of samples, the transport and possible spillage of those samples and the risk to the analyst, particularly when samples required digestion with hydrofluoric acid. There is also the increase in hazardous waste management of the waste produced by the samples and their analysis. Frequently, stack gas samples or stack gas flow rates needed to be determined putting the stack sampling technicians at risk from travel and sample collection activities. Facility personnel, Agency people, and consultants were placed at risk traveling back and forth to perform the tasks necessary for the proper submittal of the documents. Frequently, meetings with the public were conducted to expand on or properly explain the required public notices thus entailing more travel risk to more people.

The preparation of the requirements for documenting the Certification of Compliance (COC) continued the process. This resulted in more risk due to travel, more sample collection, transport and analysis, more destruction of trees to produce the ever growing volume of paper necessary to document compliance. This preparation culminated in the Certification of Compliance Test Burns.

These COC Test Burns each required hundreds of man-hours of work, thousands of airline and auto travel miles and repeated risk of exposure to toxic chemicals during sample collection, transportation and analysis. All 34 cement kilns "spiked" additional virgin metal solutions into the kilns, that is metals solutions were purchased from chemical manufacturers and added to the waste fuels being burned. These materials would not have entered the environment except as the direct result of the implementation of BIF. Table 1 is a conservative estimation of the thousands of pounds of BIF toxic metals that were "spiked" during the COC Test Burns.

All of these metals are deemed by the EPA to be toxic. The need to conduct "spiking" of any of these metals to demonstrate compliance with the BIF regulation is at the very best questionable. The EPA knew from its own testing prior to the promulgation of the BIF regulation that the cement kiln system capture efficiencies were quite high and that the levels of emissions would be well within the health-based limits set in BIF, even at significant metal input rates. It was this knowledge, after-all, that underlies the determination of the feed rate limits that are a part of the Precompliance Certification requirements, feed rate limits that could not be exceeded during the COC Testing. Consequently, "spiking" any of these metals was an exercise in bureaucratic redundancy. The requirement to spike some of these metals, however, exceeded even that descriptor.

Beryllium is especially toxic but extremely rare in combustible wastes. Yet the BIF regulation resulted in adding 700 pounds of this toxic metal to the environment. A similar statement can be made regarding hexavalent chromium. The EPA's interpretation of the BIF regulation as expressed in the BIF Implementation Document frequently resulted in facilities using hexavalent chromium bearing solutions as spiking materials(2). This "interpretation" was based on very limited data taken from a single hazardous waste incinerator test and ignored available information in the scientific literature(3). Additionally, there are essentially no organic hexavalent chromium compounds and few inorganic hexavalent chromium compounds that do not react with organic fuel constituents resulting in much less toxic trivalent chromium compounds. Added to this is the fact that there is no analytical technique for determining hexavalent chromium concentration in organic matrices, rendering the concept of hexavalent chromium feed rate limitations moot. Nevertheless, implementation of the BIF regulation placed facility personnel and COC Test Burn contractors at risk in handling hexavalent chromium spiking solutions.

Even without the risks from toxic metals solutions conducting a BIF COC Test Burn presented additional risks to human health and safety. BIF required the tests to be conducted at extreme operating conditions; maximum gas velocity, minimum APC power (ESP) or pressure differential (baghouse), maximum feed rates for kiln feed and waste fuel, maximum kiln exit temperature, etc. As a totality these conditions increased the risk of failure of the system to perform its intended task, the control of emissions. The stack sampling technicians were again subjected to risk in performing their tasks. Now, however, the stack gases were hotter with higher particulate loadings thus increasing the difficulty in sampling. Frequently, test periods were extended, or additional runs required, to compensate for these sampling difficulties or kiln operating problems associated with the extreme operating conditions. This additional testing induced fatigue and increased the potential for accidents and injury to all test personnel.

The increased risks caused by BIF does not end with the COC Test Burns. There was all of the sample analysis required by the Test Burns, plus all of the ongoing routine analysis required by BIF. This routine analysis required the installation of a continuous emissions monitoring system, entailing more risk to facility personnel and contractors to install and debug these complex and problem prone systems. There is the increased risk caused by the airline and auto travel to gather, compile, review and submit the COC Test Burn report. In a number of cases this was followed by more travel by lawyers, facility personnel and consultants to deal with alleged violations of the BIF regulations, the vast majority of which was the result of confusion. This confusion stemmed from a misunderstanding of the regulations by both the EPA and the regulated community. To this day there are questions posed during the compliance workshops in 1990 which have gone unanswered by the EPA.

In all, the implementation of BIF has essentially initiated an entire multi-million dollar industry, replete with substantial risk to its employees, for the sole purpose of supplying information. What does this information tell us of the risk of consuming waste fuel?

The COC Test Burn data documents, even under the extreme operating conditions imposed by BIF, and as interpreted by the very conservative models supplied by the EPA, demonstrate that there is no significant increased risk to human health and the environment from consuming hazardous waste fuels in cement kilns. At the normal operating conditions prevalent at all of the facilities both before and after the implementation of BIF the risk would be even lower. It is readily obvious that the perceived risk that the EPA intended to control with the BIF regulations did not exist. Nor can the impact on pollution prevention, stated in the Preamble to BIF, be demonstrated. Implementation of BIF has not materially affected an input limitation on metals or chlorine in kilns since virtually all kilns operate at metals and chlorine input rates that are a fraction of the allowable limits determined by the COC Test Burns. A case could be made that the price for disposal of wastes by this method have increased, consequently providing an "incentive" to generators to reduce waste generation. However, these price increases have been eroded by the competitiveness of the market and are not a factor in waste minimization efforts.

Environmental Toxicology International, Inc., published a life cycle analysis comparing the overall risk of producing cement using hazardous waste fuels and cement produced using only coal as fuel. The conclusion of this study was that cement produced with waste fuel entails less overall risk than cement produced with the use of coal as fuel(4). This analysis ignored differences in environmental compliance activities for the two methods of production. It would be interesting to see this comparison with the risks enumerated above included in the analysis.


There can be no argument that individuals were placed at repeated risk to acquire information that overwhelmingly documented that the consumption of hazardous waste as fuel in cement kilns constitutes an insignificant risk to human health and the environment of the nation. This is demonstrated by an examination of the ease with which cement kilns complied with the emission limits of the regulation while operating at the extreme conditions under which the EPA required the COC Tests to be conducted. Such conditions are a mode of operation that cannot be sustained during normal operation, whether before BIF or after. The Precompliance Certification documents accurately predicted the emissions limits subsequently documented by the COC Tests thereby demonstrating that the EPA understood the efficiency of cement kilns and that health-based emissions limits under normal operating conditions virtually could not be exceeded.

The industry is now entering another phase of the implementation of the BIF regulation. The preparation of Recertification of Compliance Tests and Permit Trial Burns. Indications are that the agencies will require substantial additional testing and/or compete retesting of the facilities, regardless of the lack of documented risk demonstrated by the existing data. Gossman Consulting has sent two letters to the EPA requesting an examination of the necessity of this testing in light of the lack of documented risk due to emissions and the obvious increased risk from conducting more testing(5). Only after obtaining assistance from our U.S. Senator has EPA replied, and then in the negative. Consequently, many individuals will again be placed at risk of their health and safety and many more pounds of toxic metals will be needlessly added to the environment in a redundant effort to document that there is no increased risk to human health and the environment from consuming waste fuels in cement kilns.

Table 1. Estimated Pounds* of BIF Metals Spiked During COC Tests in 1992










Total for 34 Kilns












* 80% of the hazardous waste fuel input rate reported in the COC Test Reports for each metal for a period of 30 hours. Many kilns conducted two or more tests or spiked for longer periods, this was not considered in this estimation. Metal input data was taken from "Commercial BIF compliance Test Results - 1992" Gossman Consulting, Inc.


1. Garg, Shiva; Burning of Hazardous Waste in Boilers and Industrial Furnaces, EPA/OSW-FR-90; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Research Triangle Park, 1990; Preamble-Part One Section II H.

2. Holloway, Robert and Garg, Shiva; Technical Implementation Document for EPA's Boiler and Industrial Furnace Regulations, EPA530-R-92-0; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Research Triangle Park, March 1992; Section Spiking.

3. Gossman, D.G.; Metal Compound Selection for BIF Compliance Tests and Trial Burns, HWF Notes, June 1992, Gossman Consulting, Inc., Hampshire, IL.

4. Kelly, Katheryn E. and Beech, Jennifer; "Comparative Life Cycle Analysis of Cement Made With Coal vs Hazardous Waste as Fuel," in Proceedings of the April 1994 A&WMA BIF Conference on Waste Combustion in Boilers and Industrial Furnaces, SP-92; Air & Waste Management Association: Pittsburgh, 1994; pp 258-269.

5. David G. Gossman, Gossman Consulting, Inc., Hampshire, IL, personnal communication, 1994.