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VOC Bill Passes in California

November 22, 2010

New cleaning product regulations effective in 2014.

The California Air Resources Board voted Thursday (Nov. 18) to reduce the use of volatile organic compounds in 11 different types of household products. The new regulation is designed to reduce the amount of smog-forming emissions generated from the use of floor cleaner, metal polish, furniture polish, general purpose cleaner, oven cleaner and other products.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, manufacturers will no longer be able to use methylene chloride, perchloroethylene and trichloroethylene in many cleaning products sold in California. The Air Resources Board estimates the regulation will save 6.7 tons of smog-forming, volatile-organic-compound emissions per day - the equivalent of taking 500,000 cars off the road. Doing so helps the state meet federal clean air standards.

"A lot of times we work to clean up emissions from machines the average person would never see, but this is something that would affect the products we use every day in our homes." said Candice Kim, senior campaign associate with the Coalition for Clean Air in L.A. "It’s a double benefit because we get improved indoor air quality making products safer for the home user, but we also get improved outdoor air quality."

The Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA) recently disputed a host of “misleading claims and false assertions” recently touted in a University of Washington study published in its Environmental Impact Assessment Review.

The study, which catalogues product ingredients but does not scientifically evaluate results from exposure to those ingredients, attempts to falsely imply that products regulated under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act might be connected to adverse health effects, according to the CSPA.

“It is dangerous to stoke the flames of consumer fear with incomplete findings built on a foundation of factual inaccuracies and sweeping assumptions,” said Chris Cathcart, CSPA President. “These products are safe when used according to product labels, and they have been utilized safely by consumers for decades. Cleaning, air freshener and laundry products adhere to strict labeling and safety requirements as mandated by the federal government.”

While CSPA acknowledges, as the study points out, the presence of regulated volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in some products, it vehemently disagrees with the author’s mischaracterization of information regarding the hazards associated with those VOCs. Not all ingredients are volatile, and not all volatile ingredients are hazardous. The products identified in the study contain no significant levels of volatile hazardous ingredients, it added.

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