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Environmental Management Assistance Program

Woodworking Operations

Most small businesses involved in the woodworking sector likely have environmental issues to consider. 

Furniture manufacturers, cabinet makers, floor manufacturers, and refinishing businesses are just some example of woodworking businesses that may be subject to regulations for controlling air emissions, managing and disposing of used rags or solvent wipes, and using diesel powered generators or engines in daily operations.


EMAP encourages small business owners and operators of small woodworking operations to consider ways to properly manage & minimize environmental impacts in each of the following ways:

Air Quality

  • Use low-VOC and HAP coatings – check Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) for each paint, stain, sealer, topcoat, thinner, solvent or other petroluem-based product used for content of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs).  Work with your vendor or product supplier to find low or no-VOC and HAP alternatives. 
  • Keep product containers closed – all products that contain VOCs or HAPs should remain closed when not being used to minimize evaporation of the product and to prevent unwanted air emissions.
  • Apply spray coatings in a booth with filters – coatings applied with a spray gun should be applied in a booth with proper air filters designed to collect overspray particulate matter (PM).  Staff should periodically check these filters to ensure they are installed correctly and to see when they should be replaced.
  • Use a high, volume, low pressure (HVLP) gun – HVLP guns should be used to ensure maximum coverage with minimum overspray.  Ensure the spray gun operator is properly trained, too.
  • Use equipment to reduce wood dust emissions – the use of a properly designed dust collector/baghouse/cyclone should be employed in certain woodworking operations to reduce PM emissions. When working properly, these systems can collect up to 99% of dust and wood particulates being generated.


  • Characterization – facilities should properly characterize all waste being generated.  Do you know whether your waste is considered hazardous, residual, municipal, or a univeral wastes?
  • Management – all wastes should be managed properly to prevent unwanted spills or accidents. All wastes should be labeled correctly, have generation dates listed, and should be kept in adequate containers that are compatible to store the waste.
  • Minimization & Disposal – are there ways you can minimize wastes upstream at your operation? Can you recycle or reuse any waste products?  If not, ensure proper disposal of the waste type.

Jeremy Hancher is the EMAP Program Manager located at the Widener University SBDC.  He holds over 15 years of experience in environmental compliance, environmental policy, and program management.  He is proud to be the team lead of the award-winning EMAP program which provides free and confidential environmental assistance to the Pennsylvania small business community in fulfillment of the requirements of the Pennsylvania Air Pollution Control Act and Section 507 of the federal Clean Air Act.
In 2015, Jeremy was part of the team effort when EMAP was recognized by US EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy for Outstanding Accomplishments by a State Small Business Environmental Assistance Provider in Providing Technical Environmental Assistance to the Small Business Community. Jeremy holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh, a Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and a certificate from the Wharton School.