Release 09-87
September 24, 2009

    Dimitri Stanich
California adopts new limits for consumer products
Country's most stringent controls will reduce ozone and prevent emissions of airborne toxins

DIAMOND BAR, CALIF. : Today the Air Resources Board adopted a regulation for air fresheners, paint thinners and multi-purpose solvents that will eliminate more than 14 tons-per-day of volatile organic compounds when fully implemented in 2014, and prohibits the use of several toxic air contaminants.

According to California's clean air laws, chemically created products used by homeowners and institutions are consumer products and subject to air pollution regulatory control. These emit nearly 255 tons-per-day of VOCs statewide. The sub-categories of products addressed by today's action emit 22 tons-per-day of the smog forming compounds.

"Consumer products are not widely recognized as a source of air pollution," said ARB Executive Officer James Goldstene. "But the millions of times a day these are sprayed, poured and painted generate a large cloud of fumes that can create ozone and contribute to California's smog problem."

The new regulation, which will result in one of the state's largest reductions of VOCs from consumer products, also sets a cap on the use of high global warming ingredients, another U.S. first.

The cap on global warming ingredients was adopted to create a backstop that would avoid the need to review the regulation if such compounds were to be considered for future formulas.

ARB officials expect the average increase cost to consumers to be about $1.50 per gallon of paint thinner.

VOCs are a target of air quality regulations because they easily convert to ozone in the heat of California's climate. Ozone can worsen asthma, cause serious lung inflammation, decrease lung function and lead to emergency room visits for asthma, hospitalization for respiratory conditions and increased school absences.

The California Clean Air Act adopted in 1988 required ARB to reduce VOC emissions from consumer products as a means to reach state and federal ambient air quality standards. Since that date ARB regulations have curbed these emissions by 44 percent, nearly 200 tons-per-day, and curbed toxic air contaminants by 13 tons-per-day.

The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.