Air Pollution Control Requirements

Minnesota businesses must comply with MPCA rules to protect air quality. Some rules apply even though the business will not have air emissions requiring permits.

Motor Vehicle Emission Controls

Owners of businesses that operate motor vehicle fleets should be aware that it is contrary to state rules and federal regulations to remove or disable the air pollution control equipment on motor vehicles, and it is illegal to operate motor vehicles unless the pollution control equipment is in place and is in operating condition.

Notification of Emergency Air Releases

The MPCA must be notified immediately of any releases to the air that might endanger human health, damage property or create a public nuisance. The business must take the steps necessary to prevent such releases.

Air Emissions Facility Permits

An air-emissions facility permit will be required if the business has the potential to emit more than the following airborne pollutants in a single year (in tons/year): lead 0.5; fine particulate matter < 10 microns, 25; single hazardous air pollutant 10; two or more hazardous air pollutants 25; sulfur dioxide 50; nitrous oxides, 100; carbon monoxide 100; particulate matter 100; volatile organic compounds 100. There is an application fee and an annual permit fee. Under certain circumstances, local health and welfare problems have to be addressed through an air emission facility permit even though the business would otherwise be exempt under Minnesota rules. This may be because of toxic air emissions or dust from the proposed business.

Although not all will require air-emissions permits, business operators who should be aware of MPCA air quality rules are those whose businesses include the use of boilers, incinerators, electrical generators and solvent-borne coatings. Other businesses whose operations fall under air quality rules are those that create emissions such as dust, including grain elevators, concrete batch plants, sand and gravel operations and building demolition operations.

Permit applications should be submitted before construction is to begin. Applicants will need to know the characteristics of the exhaust gas stream before and after, any emission control equipment, type and design of emission control equipment, the relation of emission points to nearby structures and other information. The permitting process may be delayed if information is inadequate, if the facility is proposed in an area where the air quality is already below standards, or if public demands result in scheduling public hearings.

Business operators in doubt about the need for a permit should call the MPCA. Businesses that have fewer than 100 employees and are independently owned and operated may call the MPCA’s Small Business Environmental Assistance Program.

Green House Gas Emissions

The EPA published a rule requiring reporting of greenhouse gas emissions from specifically identified sources and sources emitting more than 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents, beginning in 2011. Minnesota is working on rule revisions for a green house gas reporting and for permitting of greenhouse gases. More information may be found at

Asbestos Removal

Prior to any renovation or demolition work in a commercial space, a survey for the presence of asbestos is required. This survey must be conducted by an inspector that is certified by the Minnesota Department of Health. An asbestos abatement contractor licensed by the Minnesota Department of Health may be required for removal depending on the type and quantity of asbestos affected by the project. Notifications must be submitted to the MPCA prior to all demolition and most asbestos abatement projects. Business owners should be aware that asbestos removal is also regulated by the Asbestos and Lead Compliance Unit of the Minnesota Department of Health and the Occupational Safety and Health Division of the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. The respective addresses and telephone numbers for information on these requirements is listed in the Resource Directory section of this Guide. For further information, contact the MPCA Asbestos Unit.

CREDITS: This is an excerpt from A Guide to Starting a Business in Minnesota, provided by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Small Business Assistance Office, Twenty-eighth Edition, January 2010, written by Charles A. Schaffer, Madeline Harris, and Mark Simmer. Copies are available without charge from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Small Business Assistance Office.

This post is also part of a series of posts on Minnesota Environmental Protection Programs and how they affect starting a business in Minnesota.