Presented in Partnership with:


The Surface Technology Environmental Resource Center (STERC), previously known as the National Metal Finishing Resource Center (NMFRC), provides a wealth of useful environmental compliance information to the surface finishing and surface treatment industry. STERC is the result of a new partnership with NCMS, the AESF Foundation and NASF initiated in 2016 and through continued grant funding from EPA.

From Old to New - The new name reflects a broader industry technical focus for the Center. Like the old NMFRC site, STERC will continue to include easy-to-follow regulatory overviews, tips on how to comply, best practice solutions that can help the environment while saving companies money, and links to other useful resources.

A Fresh Look and Expanded Features - But now STERC offers even more. A fresh new look with expanded menu options, an expanded library (with free access to NASF members), an expanded “Ask the Experts” section, combined training and education products from NCMS and the AESF Foundation, highlights of pending new rules and compliance deadlines, and links to upcoming NASF/AESF events among other planned features.

Training Materials - STERC now offers training and education products from NCMS and NASF. They include on-line training, classroom courses and hard copy reference books covering a range of production and environmental topics. These are available through the STERC Bookstore and the NASF Course Catalog. Please take advantage of these offerings.

Partners in the Initiative - This website was developed and is maintained by the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences, now in partnership with the AESF Foundation and the National Association for Surface Finishing. Funding for this project has been provided by EPA under the National Compliance Assistance Centers program and the AESF Foundation / National Association for Surface Finishing. For more information, or to pass along suggestions, please contact: Lisa Stobierski, Sr. Program Manager.


The Foundation was constituted in 2006 to support the emerging demands of global surface technology value chain. Our Educational Programs are well recognized in the industry and include:

  • Class Room Courses
  • Home Study
  • Custom Courses
  • Webinars
  • Advanced Surface Technology
    (2-volume set)

We offer globally recognized certification, starting with the basic level Certified Electroplater-Finisher (CEF), all the way to Master Surface Finisher (MSF). To find out more about AESF Foundation educational materials, register for courses on-line, or down load a course catalog, click here.

To supplement our free on-line compliance assistance resources, we have developed special educational materials. These include:

  • A Library - Extensive on-line technical library (over 8,000 documents)
  • Pollution Prevention & Control Technology Manual - Comprehensive book covering pollution prevention and control technologies
  • Hard Chrome Plating Course (book and on-line)
  • On-line Tools such as the Plating Calculator and other resources

These items can be purchased as single products or combined into affordable packages. For more information, click here.

June 15-17, 2020
Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, GA

NASF Leadership Conference 2020
February 25-28, 2020
Ocean Reef Club,
Key Largo, FL

NASF Washington Forum 2020
Washington Forum 2020,
April 20-22 Ritz Carlton,
Pentagon City, VA


What's New
- A new STERC feature, Technical Articles, was added in 2018 to showcase the technical expertise of NASF members. The articles focus on technical, scientific, regulatory, and practical issues for the finishing industry. All STERC users have free access to this feature.

EPA releases e-Manifest Compliance Assistance Tools. EPA established a national system for tracking hazardous waste shipments electronically. This system, known as “e-Manifest,” will modernize the nation’s cradle-to-grave hazardous waste tracking process while saving valuable time, resources, and dollars for industry and states. EPA launched e-Manifest on June 30, 2018. Under the e-Manifest Act and EPA's implementing regulations, manifest users may continue to use paper manifests, however, EPA strongly encourages the use of electronic manifests as these manifests will be the least expensive and easiest way to comply with the regulations.

EPA has developed various resources to assist waste generators. These include the following:


EPA's e-Manifest Development Team In-Person Workshop

Monday, August 26, 2019 (8:30 AM – 4:30 PM). EPA's e-Manifest development team will be hosting an in-person workshop for industry IT developers, especially those in the transportation sector, in Chicago, IL. The purpose of this workshop is engage industry IT developers in a technical talk on implementing the full-electronic workflow. Learn how e-Manifest can be integrated to your software and apps that are used in trucking and transportation sectors. All interested parties are encouraged to attend, however this will be an extremely IT-focused event.

The facility can hold up to 250, please email if you are interested in attending. You do not need to register with Stephen, however, knowing who’s coming in advance will help with planning.

Event Details:
When: Monday, August 26, 2019, 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM
Where: Region 5 Conference Center
Ralph H. Metcalfe building
77 W Jackson Blvd
Chicago, IL 60603


On July 30, 2019, the Department of Defense’s Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) and Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP) released solicitations requesting proposals for the development and demonstration of non-fluorine based firefighting formulations and/or technologies beginning in FY 2020.

EPA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program (Open Date:

June 13, 2019 – July 31, 201). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the release of its 2019-2020 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I Solicitation to develop innovative technologies that protect human health and the environment. EPA is calling for small businesses to apply for Phase I awards up to $100,000 to demonstrate proof of concept in the following topic areas: clean and safe water, air quality, land, homeland security, sustainable materials management and safer chemicals.

NASF PFAS Resource Center is now live on the NASF web site

The National Association for Surface Finishing has launched a PFAS Resource Center. The site includes background information on the use of PFAS in the surface finishing industry and extensive technical resources.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that includes PFOA and PFOS, the latter of which was previously used in chrome plating fume suppressants. These chemicals are very persistent in the environment and in the human body and they can accumulate over time. There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects.

Although PFOS use in the surface finishing industry represented less than one half of one percent of U.S. and global PFOS use, NASF has taken a very active role in addressing the PFAS issues. NASF proactively approached EPA and began a process that led to the industry itself requesting a national, industry-wide ban from EPA on the use of PFOS in chromium plating operations, which was finalized under a new federal Clean Air Act rule in 2012.

Visit the NASF PFAS Resource Center for historical information on PFAS use in the surface finishing industry, safer chemical substitutions, NASF actions and priorities, and extensive additional resources. All questions regarding the NASF and the surface plating industry’s environmental stewardship efforts to address PFOS in wastewater discharges should be directed to Christian Richter at or Jeff Hannapel at

Additional resource: EPA's PFAS Website provides background information, tools and resources, and identifies actions EPA has taken to address PFAS.

NASF and U.S. EPA Region 5 Partnership to Reduce Halogenated Solvents

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Region 5's office has initiated a voluntary air toxic reduction effort with regulated industry sectors in the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. Facilities covered by the Degreasing Organic Cleaners Halogenated Solvent Cleaners standard (40 CFR Part 63, Subpart T) may receive a letter from EPA Region 5 requesting their participation to help reduce or eliminate the use of the regulated solvents.

Halogenated solvents include:

  • Trichloroethylene (TCE)
  • Methyl chloroform (TCA, 111- trichloroethane)
  • Dichloromethane (DCM, methylene chloride)
  • Perchloroethylene (PERC)
  • Carbon Tetrachloride (CTC)

The National Association for Surface Finishing (NASF) and the surface finishing industry has made significant progress in reducing the use of halogenated solvents and air emissions from these solvents. Historically, these solvents have been used to clean parts prior to finishing. A clean surface is critical to apply a quality surface finish, particularly to meet customer specifications. In some cases halogenated solvents are still in use because it is not feasible to use substitute solvents for some applications. Where halogenated solvents continue to be used, facilities implement a variety of control technologies to minimize air emissions.

Even with the success in reducing emissions of halogenated solvents from the surface finishing industry, NASF is partnering with EPA to help members identify more options for product substitution and improved control technologies designed to reduce or eliminate air emissions from the use of halogenated solvents. Solvent substitution may allow the facility to reduce or eliminate permit or other compliance requirements under the federal standard, protect worker health and reduce costs.

More information on alternative solvents can be found on EPA's website: More information about this initiative is available in EPA Region 5’s fact sheet, found on the Great Lakes Pollution Prevention Roundtable's website at: In addition, NASF and EPA are planning to develop a webinar to provide more details on this initiative in the near future. For more information regarding the NASF/EPA partnership on this initiative, please contact Jeff Hannapel with NASF at

NASF Completes Metals Loading Study Highlighting Industry’s Clean Water Success

NASF has released a study pointing to the finishing industry’s major success in reducing metals discharges to local water treatment utilities in recent decades. The surface finishing industry is subject to two categorical standards for wastewater discharged to publicly owned treatment works (POTWs). In the past three years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has conducted a review of the categorical standards and discharge limits. During that time, the NASF has been working closely with EPA officials to provide information and analysis on the industry’s progress on wastewater discharge improvements.

Recent Federal Deregulatory Actions Impact Surface Finishing Selected Topics at OSHA

President Trump’s early Executive Orders on deregulation, coupled with congressional and agency actions to repeal several Obama era mandates, have reshaped the atmosphere at the agencies in Washington. It’s no surprise that repealing regulations is easy in theory but more difficult in practice. Nevertheless, there are a few OSHA deregulatory actions that have already occurred and that NASF has supported.

The Value of NASF/AESF Foundation Industry Certification

Since 1969, thousands of individuals have taken advantage of the society’s education and certification programs. Why Become Certified?

EPA Finalizes Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule.

On November 28, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal register the final Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule. This regulation amends the requirements governing hazardous waste generators under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Even though EPA states that the new regulation was needed to improve clarity and flexibility of hazardous waste generator requirements, the rule will add regulatory burdens, including new recordkeeping, labeling and notification requirements, with minimal benefit to human health or the environment.

TRI Form R Reporting Threshold Determinations for Manufactured Metal Compounds in Plating Baths.

EPA has recently acted to enforce the reporting obligation contained in Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA) that applies to surface finishing processes. The rules require facilities that manufacture, processes or otherwise uses a toxic chemical in an amount exceeding an applicable threshold quantity of that chemical during a calendar year to report releases of listed hazardous substances. If a facility is required to report such releases, a toxic release inventory (TRI) Form R must be submitted to EPA and to the state. In the surface finishing process intermediate compounds are coincidentally manufactured as the metal is brought into solution. For example, copper, nickel, zinc and chromium compounds are being formed and unformed through the chemical reactions in the plating bath. These manufactured metal compounds must be calculated to determine the amount of chemical compounds that are manufactured, processed or otherwise used for threshold reporting levels. NASF has produced compliance assistance tools to help.

Regulatory Alert: California Targeting Finishing Air Emissions Below Nanogram Levels

POSTED: March 30, 2017
Prompted by concerns over elevated air monitoring levels of hexavalent chromium in a southern California neighborhood, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) is expected to propose revisions to its Rule 1469 - Hexavalent Chromium Emissions from Chrome Plating and Chromic Acid Anodizing Operations and Rule 1426 - Emissions from Metal Finishing Operations. Read more ...

NASF Finalizing Metals Discharge Study: Presentation to EPA at April Washington Forum

POSTED: March 30, 2017
The NASF through its Government Advisory Committee is nearing completion of a milestone review and case study of the industry's progress in reducing wastewater discharges throughout a nearly 30-year period. The study compares metals discharged by permitted finishing operations in Milwaukee from 1989 to 2016. It evaluates total metals reductions from companies to the municipal treatment plant, average reductions on a per facility basis, and the relative contribution of the finishing industry versus the larger universe of industrial dischargers in the community. Read more ...

NASF Closely Watching New EPA Superfund Clean Up Rule’s Impact on Surface Finishing

POSTED: December 6, 2016
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in early December proposed a new Superfund cleanup rule that NASF members should watch closely. The new proposal stems from an agency hazardous waste initiative under the Obama Administration that covers metal finishing as well as several other manufacturing sectors.

The latest proposed rule, which industry anticipated throughout 2016, would subject hard rock mining companies to a determination of future cleanup responsibilities and require each company to obtain bonds or insurance or self-assure to cover the cost of that clean up.

This is an important development for NASF members and finishing operations nationwide. A few years ago, EPA listed metal finishing on the list of sectors that would be targeted for what would be new, extremely burdensome requirements under the federal Superfund law that could potentially bankrupt both small and large companies.

NASF Has Advised Dropping Financial Assurance Requirements

NASF has been monitoring the rule’s progress for several years and held discussions with EPA, arguing that the agency’s approach was misguided on several fronts. EPA more recently expanded the metal finishing category to cover more facilities in the larger fabricated metals sector.

Outgoing EPA Assistant Administrator Mathy Stanislaus, who heads the federal hazardous waste program, argues that the agency’s approach of requiring a company to secure a bond, letter of credit or other financial assurance mechanisms would lead to more cleanups in the U.S.

“This proposed rule, once finalized, would move the financial burden from taxpayers, and ensure that industry assumes responsibility for these cleanups,” Stanislaus said. “The proposed rule would also give companies an economic incentive to use environmentally protective practices that can help prevent future releases.”

Mining Industry Shared “Case Study” with NASF Members in Washington

This past year, attendees at the NASF Washington Forum heard from National Mining Association’s Tawny Bridgeford, who highlighted the mining industry’s experience as a “case study.” She noted that the onerous EPA requirements in the pipeline for miners would severely impact surface finishing facilities if the rules weren’t curbed early in the process.

The proposed rule, which wasn’t yet published in the Federal Register at press time, formally identified the next group of sectors in the pipeline for financial assurance rules, specifically electric power generation, transmission and distribution, petroleum, and coal products manufacturing.

The results of the presidential election, however, clearly will have some bearing on the outcome of the regulations in 2017. Because the agency released its proposal so late in the year, it’s possible that a new EPA under the incoming Trump administration will elect not to make the rule final in the new year.



| Home | Subscribe | Regulations | Compliance Assistance | News | Resources | Resource Locators | Directories | Online Training | About | Search | |

The information contained in this site is provided for your review and convenience. It is not intended to provide legal advice with respect to any federal, state, or local regulation.
You should consult with legal counsel and appropriate authorities before interpreting any regulations or undertaking any specific course of action.

Please note that many of the regulatory discussions on STERC refer to federal regulations. In many cases, states or local governments have promulgated relevant rules and standards
that are different and/or more stringent than the federal regulations. Therefore, to assure full compliance, you should investigate and comply with all applicable federal, state and local regulations.