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LA area polystyrene manufacturer Lifoam Industries pays $450,000 over violations of federal, state clean-air laws

Release Date: 07/29/2010
Contact Information: Francisco Arcaute, (213) 244-1815, Cell (213) 703-1635


LOS ANGELES - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Justice and the South Coast Air Quality Management District announced that Lifoam Industries, Inc. will pay $450,000 in fines, claiming the company violated the federal Clean Air Act and state air quality laws at its polystyrene manufacturing facility at 2340 E. 52 Street in Vernon, Calif.

Under the terms of a settlement entered today in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Lifoam Industries is required to pay a $450,000 penalty and must vent all of its manufacturing emissions through an air pollution control device.

“The effects of illegal air pollution in the Los Angeles basin are insidious, and local residents suffer a disproportionate impact,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “To protect public health and the environment, we will vigilantly track down violators and bring them into compliance.”

“Since Southern California has the worst air pollution in the nation, for the sake of public health we must ensure that all businesses are operating in compliance with air quality regulations and doing their part to help improve our air,” said Barry Wallerstein, Executive Officer of the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

The city of Vernon is one of several densely populated communities closest to the I-710 Freeway, where the effects of pollution are disproportionately higher than in other areas of Los Angeles County. Approximately 1 million people, about 70% of whom are minority and low-income households, are severely impacted by pollution from industrial activities in the area and goods movement along the freeway.

Federal, state and local regulatory agencies have formed an Enforcement Collaborative to focus resources over a multi-year effort to ensure that businesses and industries in this area are complying with environmental laws. U.S. EPA is joining forces with Cal/EPA, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board and the California Air Resources Board in the Enforcement Collaborative, which is partnering with other local government and non-profit organizations to improve environmental and public health conditions in these communities.

Lifoam Industries manufactures expanded polystyrene foam products that contain pentane, a volatile organic compound that contributes to ozone pollution, or smog.

According to EPA, Lifoam Industries failed to ensure that the volatile organic compound emissions were less than 2.4 pounds of volatile organic compounds per 100 pounds of raw materials, a violation of the Clean Air Act. The South Coast Air Quality Management District, which oversees air regulations in the Los Angeles Air Basin, allows polystyrene foam product manufacturers to meet this federally-enforceable emissions limit by using raw materials that release less volatile organic compounds or through the use of an adequate air pollution control device.

Both federal regulators and the South Coast Air Quality Management District also assert that Lifoam installed and operated air-pollution-emitting equipment without obtaining the necessary permits and that the facility did not properly vent volatile organic compounds to air pollution control equipment.

Volatile organic compounds react with other pollutants such as nitrogen oxide and, in the presence of sunlight, can form ozone, or smog. Smog can cause respiratory problems, including coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest pain. People with asthma, children and the elderly are especially at risk, but these health concerns are important to everyone.