National Enforcement Initiative: Cutting Hazardous Air Pollutants

Air pollution from an improperly operated flare

Fast Fact

Enforcement actions in 2010 resulted in reducing lifetime air toxics cancer risk to less than 1 in a million for more than 900,000 people.


Leaks, flares, and excess emissions from refineries, chemical plants and other industries emit hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), or air toxics, that are known or suspected to cause cancer, birth defects, and seriously impact the environment.

  • Recent monitoring shows that facilities typically emit more HAP emissions than they actually report. 
  • Leaking equipment and improperly operated flares are some of the largest sources of HAP emissions from petroleum refineries and chemical manufacturing facilities.  
  • Improper operation of an industrial flare can result in hundreds of tons of excess HAP emissions.


EPA will target and reduce illegal emissions of toxic air pollutants from leaks and flares, as well as target and reduce excess emissions, at facilities that have a significant impact on air quality and health in communities.

Enforcement Cases


Progress on Cutting Hazardous Air Pollutants

The following maps and charts show EPA's progress in targeting and reducing illegal emissions of toxic air pollutants.

Map of air toxics enforcement actions