Release 09-112
December 16, 2009

    Dimitri Stanich
office: 916-322-2290
cell: 916-716-8047

Target Corporation fined $500,000 for clean air violations
Retailer resisted cooperating with enforcement officers and was subject to a stipulated judgment

SACRAMENTO: The Air Resources Board has fined Target Corporation $500,000 for selling multiple products throughout California between 2006 and 2008 that do not comply with the state's clean air regulations.

ARB enforcement officers found that the retail chain had marketed, sold, supplied and contracted with companies to provide quantities of several non-compliant products to California's market including: portable generators, portable fuel containers, automotive windshield washer fluid and liquid air fresheners.

"ARB worked with manufacturers to design products that pollute less," said ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. "Retailers have a responsibility to ensure the products they offer are legal for sale in California."

Initially, Target was found to be selling non-compliant windshield washer fluid. California regulations establish a maximum level of volatile organic compounds in windshield-washer fluid, and all chemically formulated products because VOCs contribute to ground level ozone.

Further investigation found that the manufacturer had warned Target several times that the product was not formulated for sale in warmer portions of California. Target continued to sell the product even after state representatives notified the company of the violations and pending enforcement actions. Further investigation discovered sales of other non-compliant products, including numerous Target branded reed-diffuser air fresheners.

ARB referred the case to California Attorney General's office in September 2008. The stipulated settlement was ultimately finalized in October of 2009.

California requires reduced VOC emissions from consumer products as a means to reach state and federal ambient ozone standards. Ozone is the main constituent of smog, a threat to human health and the focus of decades of regulations aimed at reducing air pollution. Exposure to ozone can cause lung inflammation, impaired breathing, coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and worsening of asthma symptoms.

VOCs are also emitted from portable fuel containers. In 1999, the state addressed these by requiring manufacturers to engineer canisters with tight controls. The new canisters eliminate fumes that leak through container walls and, to reduce spillage, include a mechanism that seals the spigot when not in use.

Portable generators have strict emission requirements focusing on exhaust.

Efforts over the last 20 years to clean California's air have led to a 38% drop in statewide ozone levels.

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.