Fugitive Emission

Last Updated: February 18, 2021

Definition - What does Fugitive Emission mean?

Fugitive emissions are non-liquid leaks. In the context of environmental and workplace health and safety, fugitive emissions refer to leaks or unintended releases of pollutants from a contained source into the surrounding atmosphere.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies any unintended emission from a facility or activity as a fugitive emission. Dust, gas leaks, smoke and vapor clouds may all be considered fugitive emissions. Materials that are properly vented through a chimney or other exhaust system are not categorized as fugitive emissions.

WorkplaceTesting explains Fugitive Emission

In the workplace, fugitive emissions may occur when a pipe or value fails allowing gases or vapors to escape into the surrounding work space. These leaks or releases may occur in a variety of occupational settings. For example, the chemicals used for dry cleaning must be carefully managed and vented to avoid exposing workers to unwanted fumes. The oil and gas industry represents a high risk field for fugitive emissions as anything from mechanical failures to improper venting can allow gases and vapors to escape.

Because of the risks posed by the chemicals used in many industries, government agencies including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) require employers and operators who use specific chemicals to carefully monitor their processes and equipment for fugitive emissions. These regulations require regular equipment inspections and air quality monitoring to ensure the safety of workers and the general public.

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