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Carpenter in protective gloves sawing boards at sawmill.

Air emissions


Airborne dust is a nuisance and a health concern. Woodworking businesses — from sawmills to wood-product manufacturers — can create dust from manufacturing processes, outdoor stockpiles, and hauling and transferring material. The MPCA requires facilities to prevent dust from becoming airborne.

Air permit. Whether you need an air permit will depend on your various processes and their potential to create air emissions. The very smallest facilities may qualify as insignificant facilities, which do not need a permit.

A woodworking facility can use this calculator to see if they may qualify to operate without an air permit by following certain technical standards:

Use these process-focused calculators to determine your facility's potential and actual emissions.

Complying with state permits

Air permit due dates

RequirementDue date
Emission inventory fee for previous reporting yearMailed to permit holders between February and April, due within 30 days
Emission inventory reportApril 1
Emissions summary review periodBegins in August/September


Whether or not your business has an air permit, you may need to meet the requirements of National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP:

If this standard applies, submitDue date
180 days after startup

Hazardous waste

You need a hazardous waste identification number if your business produces any amount of hazardous waste.

Businesses generating most types of hazardous waste are required to report annually, pay a fee, and obtain a license for the subsequent year. Facilities in Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, or Washington County are licensed and inspected by their county. Facilities in greater Minnesota are licensed and inspected by the MPCA. If you produce only small amounts of hazardous waste, you probably qualify as a very small quality generator:

Annual hazardous waste training is required for businesses that generate 220 pounds or more of hazardous waste a month. Learn more: Hazardous waste

Hazardous waste due dates

RequirementDue date
Hazardous waste generators feeMailed to license holders in first quarter, due date on invoice
License applicationDue August 15 for Greater Minnesota businesses;
Twin Cities metro businesses, contact your county


Apply for an industrial stormwater permit if you have material, equipment, or activities that are exposed to rain, snow, or runoff. You may qualify for the no-cost no-exposure certification and avoid the permit and fees if you don’t have any materials, equipment, or activities exposed to the elements. If you have only a few materials outside, consider moving them inside to qualify for no-exposure certification

Stormwater permit due dates

RequirementDue date
Industrial stormwater general permit annual reportingMarch 31
Industrial stormwater general permit quarterly samplingJanuary 21, April 21, July 21, and October 21

Local regulation

Be sure to check with your county, city, and township to see if they have any additional requirements.

Beyond compliance

Benefits of going beyond compliance for wood finishing:

  • Water-based finishes have fewer worker health and safety issues than solvent-based coatings.
  • Respond to a growing market for “green” wood products.

Consider these green ideas:

  • Lease reusable wipes from an industrial laundry service.
  • Optimize use of cleaning solvent by implementing a two-stage cleaning process.
  • Adjust the fluid delivery pressure and nozzle size on spray equipment to gain optimum efficiency.
  • Train operators on the best spray techniques to reduce the amount of product used.
  • Consider purchasing equipment with a higher transfer efficiency.