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Water: Metal Finishing

Effluent Guidelines: Metal Finishing


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The metal finishing effluent guidelines (40 CFR 433) were promulgated in 1983 and regulate wastewater from wide variety of industries performing various metal finishing operations. EPA estimates that there are approximately 44,000 facilities performing various metal finishing operations that discharge process wastewater directly to surface waters or indirectly to surface waters through POTWs. The metal finishing effluent guidelines are incorporated into NPDES permits for direct dischargers or permits or other control mechanisms for indirect dischargers.

On July 15, 1983, this regulation amended the pretreatment standards for existing source electroplaters (electroplating PSES), 40 CFR Part 413.

What is Metal Finishing?

Metal finishing is the process of changing the surface of an object, for the purpose of improving its appearance and/or durability. Also, metal finishing is related to electroplating, which is the production of a thin surface coating of the metal upon another by electrodeposition.

Facilities Covered

The metal finishing regulation is defined by manufacturing processes and not by industrial sectors. However, facilities regulated by the metal finishing effluent guidelines are often included in the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Major Groups 34 through 39:

  • Major Group 34: Fabricated Metal Products, except Machinery and Transportation
  • Major Group 35: Machinery, except Electrical
  • Major Group 36: Electrical and Electronic Machinery, Equipment and Supplies
  • Major Group 37: Transportation Equipment
  • Major Group 38: Measuring, Analyzing and Controlling Instruments: Photograph; Optical Goods; Watches and Clocks
  • Major Group 39: Miscellaneous Manufacturing Industries

Final Rule

The key Federal Register notices are:

Guidance and Background Documents

Guidance Document:
Guidance Manual for Electroplating and Metal Finishing Pretreatment Standards (PDF) (73 pp, 973K) (EPA-440-1-84-091g; February 1984)
Development Document:
Metal Finishing Technical Development Document, EPA-440-1-83-091 (PDF) (730 pp, 25MB) (June 1983)
Regulatory Determination:
Regulatory Determination for the "PreKote" Surface Preparation Process (PDF) (6 pp, 115K) (April 2003)
Letter Describing the 'Chemical Etching' Metal Finishing Option (PDF) (8 pp, 127K) (June 2004)
Information on the Misuse of Sodium Dimethyldithiocarbamate (PDF) (2pp, 38K) (June 2000)
Policy and Guidance Documents:
Guidance Manual for Implementing Total Toxic Organics (TTO) Pretreatment Standards (PDF) (86 pp, 4.6MB) (September 1985)

Additional Information

For additional information regarding metal finishing industry effluent guidelines, please see metal finishing contacts.

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Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.

Proposed Rule and Support Documents

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