Clearing the Air for Small Business

This page last reviewed July 14th, 2011


 In California, environmental regulations have become a fact of life for business people. Complying with the rules is one way California businesses help protect our state's beauty and natural resources, including the air we breathe. But dealing with government standards, permits and procedures can be a challenge. As the state government agency responsible for air quality in California, the Air Resources Board (ARB) has programs specifically designed to help small business people navigate the regulation process. Our mission is twofold: to ensure healthy, clean air for California and to make doing business in our state as simple and painless as possible.

Regulations and Small Business

Many businesses operating in California must comply with environmental requirements that protect public health and air quality. Examples of businesses affected by air pollution regulations include those involved with:

  • Dry cleaning
  • Commercial boilers, generators, heaters and incinerators
  • Solvent cleaners
  • Paints or inks
  • Toxic chemicals
  • Gasoline sales and distribution
  • Agriculture
  • Automotive refinishing

How the ARB Can Help

The ARB provides small business - especially start-up companies - with information and assistance on all facets of air pollution control and permit requirements. Our customer services include:

  • Toll-free telephone assistance
  • Internet information
  • Free publications and expert advice
  • Compliance training seminars
  • Information on public meetings regarding regulatory development

We also work closely with California's 35 county and regional air quality management districts, which issue air pollution permits to businesses and provide information explaining clean air rules and regulations.

In addition, we've initiated an Ombudsman Program to assist our customers in resolving any regulatory problems. While protecting the air is our primary concern, we're here to lessen the burden of compliance - so you can get on with running your business.

An ombudsman investigates customer complaints, reports findings and helps customers to achieve equitable solutions. The job of the ARB Ombudsman is to assist business owners with air quality issues and regulations, connect them with appropriate government agencies when necessary, and work on their behalf regarding regulatory decisions.

Business Assistance Program

The Business Assistance Program is a key ARB link to small business interests and concerns. Our job is to help you understand air rules that apply to your business, explain the permitting process, identify sources of financing for pollution control equipment and provide access to the latest information regarding air quality issues.

The ARB Small Business Assistance Helpline is a toll-free service connecting you to an air quality management expert who can provide personal assistance with air pollution questions and answers, including:

  • Air pollution control requirements that impact your business
  • Air permit information
  • Innovative technology that can increase your bottom line
  • Better pollution control methods and equipment
  • Other environmental agencies that can help

Questions? Call the ARB Helpline at (800) ARB-HLP2 or (800) 272-4572.

The Environmental Phone Directory can help you find answers to a wide range of questions. The directory lists environmental agencies at the federal, state and local level and organizes information sources by category such as air, hazardous waste, pesticides, solid waste, water, and business assistance. Call the ARB Helpline to obtain your copy.

The ARB's World Wide Website supplies specific, user-friendly information on air quality rules, meetings, compliance techniques and ARB publications. The website also features an air pollution control equipment clearinghouse, emissions data, and business assistance information. Individual ARB publications, as well as a listing of most available reports, may also be obtained by calling (800) 272-4572.

Compliance Assistance Program

Your compliance with air quality regulations plays a critical role in the fight for clean air. The Compliance Assistance Program (CAP) can help small business owners understand air regulation compliance requirements and methods.

Air Resources Board Publications provide free, industry-specific information to help you comply with regulations and save money by using more efficient business technology. Handbooks and pamphlets are written in non-technical language developed for the business person; many are available in Spanish. Our dry cleaning handbook is available in Korean. Our more detailed, technical manuals are designed for environmental managers. For information, call (916) 327-7211 or (800) 272-4572.

Training is offered by the ARB for you and your employees. Over 50 different courses show you how to comply with air pollution control requirements. You'll learn both general pollution principles and specific industry compliance requirements. Our classes will keep you up to date on permit requirements, changing regulations, and new technologies in pollution control equipment. For information, call (916) 322-8272 or the ARB Helpline at (800) ARB-HLP2.

Air Quality Management Districts (AQMDs) and Air Pollution Control Districts (APCDs) As one of our partners in the effort to achieve clean air, your local AQMD or APCD is the regulatory agency that sets and enforces local air quality rules. These districts also help businesses apply for and obtain air pollution permits, offer technical compliance assistance, and provide information on permitting requirements and local air regulations.

For the address and telephone number of your local district, call the ARB Small Business Assistance Helpline or check the government section in your phone book.

Small Business Ombudsman

Complying with air quality regulations can be complicated and confusing. The ARB Small Business Ombudsman is a source of help you can turn to if other business resources have not been able to "clear the air" about air quality regulations. The Ombudsman can simplify the air quality regulatory process for your business and assist you in finding solutions to permitting problems. The Ombudsman serves as a friendly advisor should you have an unresolved complaint and can act on your behalf to ensure a fair resolution of the situation. Contact the Ombudsman by calling (800) 272-4572 or (916) 323-6791.

Commitment to Customer Service

While compliance with air pollution standards is not always easy, it can be good for business as well as the environment. Following air quality rules can make your business more efficient and save you money. It's a win-win situation for California residents and businesses alike. The Air Resources Board is committed to working with California business people to preserve our environment and make compliance simpler.

Call us. We're here to help clear the air for your business.


California Air Resources Board
1001 "I" Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Small Business Assistance Helpline
(800) ARB-HLP2 or (800) 272-4572
In Sacramento: (916) 323-3336
Fax: (916) 322-3906

*Para asistencia en espanol, favor de llamar at (800) 272-4572