Release 98-05

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                      CONTACT:            Richard Varenchik
February 19, 1998                                                                                        (626) 575-6730
                                                                                                                     Allan Hirsch
                                                                                                                     (916) 322-2990

ARB Settles Ventura Drug Store Hair Spray Case

SACRAMENTO - The California Air Resources Board (ARB) today announced a $35,000 settlement with American Drug Stores Inc. of Utah over a Ventura Sav-on drugs store selling hair spray that violated state air rules. American is the parent corporation of Sav-on.

        The settlement stems from an Aug. 25, 1994 investigation when ARB inspectors found the Sav-on drugs store, 5900 Telegraph Road, selling hair spray that exceeded state limits for volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs react in the atmosphere to form ground-level ozone, one of the most harmful components of smog.

        "On an individual basis, items such as hair spray contribute only tiny amounts of pollutants to California's skies," said ARB Chairman John Dunlap. "But when we take these consumer products as a whole, they add tons of pollutants to our air each day," he added.

        ARB inspectors found more than 150 containers of hair spray at the Ventura Sav-on that either lacked proper label codes or exceeded state VOC standards, which limit hair spray to no more than 80 percent VOCs. Although the California Health and Safety Code provides for penalties up to $50,000 per violation, the ARB accepted the $35,000 settlement as reasonable and in line with settlements at other stores for similar enforcement actions.

        Sav-on immediately discontinued selling the hairspray and in the settlement agreement, American Stores agreed not to sell in California any consumer product that does not meet state air regulations. The $35,000 settlement will be divided, with half going to the ARB and half to set up an environmental scholarship fund at the Ventura College Foundation.

        On June 1, 1999 new, more stringent standards will take effect which cut the allowable level of VOCs in hair spray to 55 percent.

        Last July the ARB adopted new, more stringent standards for 18 categories of consumer products that include more than 3,000 individual products. These include auto wax, rubbing and polishing compounds, carpet and upholstery cleaners, floor wax strippers and spot removers. As the new regulations are phased in through 2005, emissions from these products will be reduced by about 16 tons per day.

        The July action followed regulations that will reduce air emissions in 28 other consumer products. "We face federal clean-air deadlines that force us to examine every product that creates harmful air emissions and see if it is economically feasible to reduce those emissions," Dunlap said.

        ARB estimated that the new rules adopted last July will add an average of 8 cents per item to the cost of impacted products.

        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.

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