Release 06-31      

November 17, 2006


Jerry Martin
Dimitri Stanich
(916) 322-2990
California's Consumer Products to Have Less Harmful Ingredients

SAN FRANCISCO -- Today the Air Resources Board (ARB), the state agency responsible for cleaning California's air, adopted regulations that will diminish the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in consumer products.

"Technology is developing which allows the refinement of these products so that they are less environmentally damaging," said ARB Chairman, Dr. Robert F. Sawyer. "This regulation is the result of a cooperative effort with industry. It provides California with more environmentally sound products while maintaining a level playing field for businesses."

This regulation is part of a series which, by 2010, will reduce consumer product VOC emissions in California by 40 percent. Consumer products are any chemically formulated product used by households or institutions and include: detergents, cleaning compounds, polishes, floor finishes, cosmetics, antiperspirants, hairsprays, home, lawn and garden products, disinfectants, sanitizers, automotive specialty products and aerosol paints. Research has shown that these products expel 240 tons per day (TPD), or about 11 percent of the state's total VOC emissions. Today's regulations will reduce emissions in California by nearly 12 TPD by 2012.

To develop the regulation, ARB staff worked with a committee of stakeholders. A survey was used to develop an inventory of sales and formulation information for approximately 250 different categories of consumer products. This survey provided technical information that allowed ARB staff to investigate the feasibility and extent to which VOC content could be reduced for each product category. With workshops allowing stakeholders to comment, language for the regulation was crafted and the final version presented today to the Board for approval. Most products will need to comply by December 31, 2008, some others will have until December 31, 2010.

VOCs, like gasoline, alcohol, and the solvents used in paints, often have a strong odor, and contribute to the creation of ground level ozone and particulate matter. These can lead to respiratory problems, aggravate asthma, impair the immune system, and increase the risk of premature death.

"Through the reduced impact on public health and the related economic burden, all Californians will benefit from this reduction of VOCs," continued Dr. Sawyer.

ARB staff has determined that the total cost for the regulation will come to $20 million per year, or about $2.35 per pound of VOC reduced. Consumers may see a price increase of about 6 cents per unit.

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.

The energy challenge facing California is real. Every Californian needs to take immediate action to reduce energy consumption. For a list of simple ways you can reduce demand and cut your energy cost, see our website at

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