Consultation on new Environmental Assessment Levels used in air emissions risk assessments

Closed 7 Feb 2021

Opened 2 Nov 2020

Results updated 14 Sep 2021

We wanted to hear your views on the derivation of new Environmental Assessment Levels (EALs) for nine existing substances and two new substances. We also consulted on the withdrawal of the published EAL for one substance, Arsenic, relying instead on the environmental standards set out in the Ambient Air Quality Directive, 2008.We wanted to hear your views on the derivation of new Environmental Assessment Levels (EALs) for nine existing substances and two new substances. We also consulted on the withdrawal of the published EAL for one substance, Arsenic, relying instead on the environmental standards set out in the Ambient Air Quality Directive, 2008.

How we ran the consultation:

We ran a formal online consultation on Citizen Space from 2 November 2020 to 7 February 2021. We received eleven responses to the questions in our online consultation. Four were from trade associations, three from operators, one from the technology sector, one from a consultancy, one from a consortium of operators aiming to progress ‘net zero’ and one from a campaign group.

Summary of key findings and actions we will take:

Here is a summary of your responses and the actions we are taking:

  • You gave mixed views in response to the question regarding changes on the Excess Life-time Cancer Risk (ELCR) in deriving the EALs. The current UK approach is to reduce exposure to these chemicals to as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP) and to apply the management of risk from chemical carcinogens to each substance and source, individually. An ELCR of 1 in 100,000, derived from relevant human studies, is considered representative of a minimal risk to health and is often consistent with either ambient concentrations of these substances or the derivation of regulatory standards.

You identified a number of additional of substances important to industrial operators. As part of our ongoing review of EALs, we will consider the need to include these on a risk based approach. We have already begun the ‘Phase II’ review of a number of additional existing substances.

  • The financial data you provided suggests that the new EALs are not expected to pose a significant financial impact on the industry sectors affected. We have noted that expected reductions in point source emissions imposed by separate regulatory changes, in particular for benzene and naphthalene, may require operators to invest in upgrading abatement plant or increasing the height of the emission point (or both). These changes would inevitably reduce process contributions to the environment, thus meeting the new benzene EALs without additional spend.
  • We have provided comprehensive summaries of the toxicological evidence for two new substances, Mono-ethanolamine (MEA) and N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), which explain how the evidence was used in the derivation of the short and long term EALs. We will also provide, as requested, additional detail on the dossiers for specific substances, starting with naphthalene and benzene.
  • We have noted that for the two new substances, although the technology for carbon capture systems is relatively new, there are publications which give examples of suitable abatement plant which can be employed. For example, our post carbon capture best available techniques (BAT) guide’, published 2 July 2021 and the Review of amine emissions from carbon capture systems’, published August 2015, from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).
  • We will also consider the need to develop British Standards for monitoring of emissions from carbon capture systems and in ambient air because, as to date, there are no certified standards for continuous emission monitoring (CEMS), periodic monitoring or ambient air quality monitoring.

You can find a full review of your responses in our Consultation Summary Document on

Next Steps:

We will now use the new EALs in our regulatory activities. For all new permit applications and for all substantially changed permits, the new values will apply from the first day of the new operation. For all existing permits, the new values will be implemented when permits are subject to sector review.

The Growth Duty, applied from 2017 through the Deregulation Act 2015, requires us and other national regulators to have regard to the desirability of promoting economic growth, alongside our other statutory duties. We included questions in the consultation which will help us obtain the necessary information to meet this requirement in relation to the proposed new EALs.

Our technical dossier has reviewed more substances than those included within the 2020 consultation. We are working with colleagues in Public Health England (PHE) to finalise proposals on an additional set of new EALs, which we aim to consult you on.

Please email us at: if you wish to be notified of future consultations of EALs, we may carry out.


Thank you for taking the time to respond to our consultation.


Environmental Assessment Levels (EALs) are used by the Environment Agency to judge the acceptability of proposed emissions to air from industrial sites, and their relative contribution to the environment. EALs represent a pollutant concentration in ambient air at which no significant risks to human health are expected. In 2012 we ran a consultation to identify a new hierarchy for the derivation of EALs. You can view the consultation document and its responses here

As part of that consultation, we made a commitment to undertake further engagement prior to adopting any new substance specific EALs.

Working with Public Health England and using our revised methodology we are proposing to change EALs for 10 existing substances and introduce two new substances EALs. The supporting document (a chemical dossier) which explains how these values have been derived can be found in the related section below.

Why your views matter

The purpose of this round of consultation is to follow up on the 2012 engagement, implement the revised methodology and consult on the EALs for 12 substances, before we use them in our permitting activities


  • Environment Agency customers
  • Trade associations and business
  • Other regulators
  • Members of the public


  • Business and industry
  • Permits
  • Environmental permitting