Industry Voluntary Deicing Pollution Reduction Program

The much anticipated Effluent Limitation Guidelines and New Source Performance Standards for the Airport Deicing Category final rule was signed by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson in April 2012.

Voluntary Pollution Reduction Program - Reducing Pollution Associated with Aircraft Deicing Activities

The American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), Airlines for America (A4A), Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA), and Regional Airline Association (RAA), have established this Program to inform the public about and build on our industry’s ongoing efforts to reduce pollution associated with aircraft deicing.

Aircraft deicing is essential to protecting the health and welfare of our passengers. Aircraft deicing fluids (ADF) are applied to aircraft in winter conditions to ensure they taxi and takeoff safely. However, ADF can negatively impact water quality our industry.

Our industry has devoted a tremendous amount of effort and invested heavily to greatly reduce these impacts. As the industry’s principal trade associations, we have designed the Voluntary Pollution Reduction Program to build on this success. Under the Program we will be documenting the adoption of the array of pollution reduction technologies across the industry, assessing the environmental benefits of those technologies, and encouraging the development of new technologies. Our core commitment under the Program is to develop a national pollution reduction goal reflecting technology adoption and report on the industry’s progress towards that goal.

Formally beginning September 30, 2012, the first major step in the Program will be to provide an Initial Report (scheduled for November 30, 2012). In this report, the Associations will include a list of airports (and the airlines that serve them) they identify as representing approximately 80 percent of national ADF usage, to be known as the “Defined Set of Airports.” The Associations intend to take a comprehensive look at the pollution reduction technologies deployed at these airports to demonstrate progress already achieved and to support development of the national goal, deployment of new technologies and documentation of progress towards the national goal.

Major Program Milestones

  • September 30, 2012 – Program Begins
  • November 30, 2012 – Initial Report (including “Defined Set of Airports”)
  • September 30, 2014 – Phase I Report (including Quantitative Pollution Reduction Goal)
  • November 30, 2017 – Phase II Report (including a comparison of the benefits of adoption of pollution reduction technologies with the pollution reduction goal)

More detailed information and explanations can be found here:

  • Governing Principles
  • Questions and Answers 

Final Rule Requirements at a Glance

Aircraft Deicing Fluid (ADF) Collection:
In what is a major victory for the airport industry, the rule does not establish uniform, national requirements for aircraft deicing discharges at existing airports. Requirements will continue to be established in general permits, or for individual permits on a site-specific, best professional judgment basis.

New airports with 10,000 annual departures located in cold climate zones are required to collect 60 percent of aircraft deicing fluid after deicing. Airports that discharge the collected aircraft deicing fluid directly to waters of the U.S. must also meet numeric discharge requirements for chemical oxygen demand.

Urea Ban:
Existing and new primary airports with 1,000 or more annual jet departures ("non-propeller aircraft") that generate wastewater associated with airfield pavement deicing are to use non-urea-containing deicers, or alternatively, meet a numeric effluent limitation for ammonia.

To view the prepublication rule, click here.

To view the EPA's fact sheet, click here.


In August 2009, the EPA announced that it would propose a new rule that will make deicing practices on aircraft and runways more environmentally friendly while ensuring runway safety is continued. The EPA stated that discharges from deicing operations at airports can have an impact on water quality, wildlife, and lead to drinking water contamination.  At that time, the EPA was proposing requirements for control of wastewater associated with deicing of aircraft and runways at more than 200 commercial airports around the U.S.

AAAE submitted comments on the rule in February 2010.  AAAE’s comments were formulated with input from association membership regarding the specific impacts at their airports.  To read AAAE's final comments click here.

For more information or questions, please contact Melissa Sabatine.