Release 90-16
October 11, 1990
CONTACT:  Jerry Martin
(916) 322-2990

Air Resources Board Cuts Smog-Forming Compounds in Hair Spray,
Other Household Products

        SACRAMENTO - The California Air Resources Board (ARB) today ordered cutbacks in the amount of smog-forming hydrocarbons (VOC) emitted from 16 common household, personal care and automotive products, including hair sprays, air fresheners, glass and windshield cleaners and engine degreasers.

        The new regulations, which take effect between 1993 and 1998, will reduce emissions by an estimated 45 tons per day, 45 percent less than current levels, and equal to the hydrocarbon emissions of approximately 1.4 million cars.

         Many products in each category already meet the new limits and manufacturers are expected to bring others into compliance either by changing their chemical make-up or, in some cases, by switching from aerosols to other types of packaging.

        "This is a rule that will require those in the industry with higher polluting products to catch up with the leaders," noted Jim Boyd, ARB executive officer. "But we expect that virtually all of the products currently offered to consumers will continue to be available, and all of them will be more environmentally acceptable than what is on store shelves today."

         "In effect," he said, "we are using the marketplace to encourage the development of effective, low-polluting products."

        The ARB estimated the cost of meeting the new hydrocarbon limits to range between one cent and 23 cents per product.

         Hydrocarbons are part of the chemical make-up of some products covered by the rule and are used as an aerosol propellant in others. Once they escape into the atmosphere, however, they react with other pollutants to form urban smog in the same way as hydrocarbons from tailpipe exhaust.

          Hair spray is the largest source of emissions among the products covered by the new regulation, currently responsible for 92,000 pounds per day of smog-forming hydrocarbons. Current products have average hydrocarbon content of 94 percent for aerosols and 70 percent for percent for pump sprays, compared to the new ARB limit of 80 percent for each product by 1993.

         The ARB limit will drop to 55 percent for hair spray by 1998, forcing even more extensive reformulations for some products. ARB staff noted that six aerosol and 24 pump sprays now on the market already have hydrocarbon content that low and one recently introduced hair spray has as little as 40 percent hydrocarbon content.

         Other products covered by the rule have equally wide ranging hydrocarbon content. Windshield washer fluids, the second-largest pollution source covered by the rule, have hydrocarbon levels from 35 to 80 percent. Room air fresheners, the third largest source, have hydrocarbon contents from 3.5 for solids to 96 percent for those sold in aerosol cans.

        Other products covered by the rule include bathroom and tile cleaner, engine degreasers, floor polish, furniture wax, glass cleaners, hair styling gels and mousse, insect repellant, laundry prewash, oven cleaner, nail polish remover and shaving cream. Combined, these products are currently responsible for 100 tons per day of smog-forming hydrocarbons.

        The new ARB rules are patterned after similar hydrocarbon limits set in recent years for many other products, such as paint, industrial degreasers and deodorants and anti-perspirants.

        "We have been aggressive in regulating pollution from cars and we have been aggressive in regulating emissions from industrial facilities," noted Jananne Sharpless, ARB chairwoman. "But we have to recognize that even with that aggressiveness, we won't meet health standards for cleaner air without controlling these emissions, too.

         "As emissions from cars and industrial facilities are cut more and more, smaller sources of air pollution become bigger parts of the problem. These household products will be bigger contributors to the state's smog problem as the population grows."

        Two weeks ago, the ARB adopted the world's strictest emission limits for new cars, requiring cars built between 1994 and 2003 to be up to 85 percent less polluting than today's models and required production of non-polluting electric cars, beginning in 1998.

        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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