Frequently Asked Questions and Facts About
California Consumer Products Regulation Affecting
Automotive Windshield Washer Fluid
This page last reviewed December 6, 2012
- Regulatory Advisory on Recent Amendments Pertaining to Automotive Windshield Washer Fluid Products
- Windshield Washer Fluid Fact Sheet
- Consumer Tips: Selecting Effective Windshield Washer Fluid for Freezing Temperatures
- Retailers: Print information to display next to your windshield washer fluid
Why are VOCs in Automotive Windshield Washer Fluid Regulated in California?
Before it was regulated in 1993, automotive windshield washer fluid (AWWF) was a very large source of pollution in California's cities. AWWF contained high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are a component of ground-level ozone formation, and one of the main pollutants that compose smog. VOCs are used in AWWF as an anti-freeze which reduces the temperature the fluid will freeze in cold weather. In most areas of California, milder temperatures do not necessitate the use of VOCs for AWWF to wet and clean vehicle windshields. Reducing the amount of VOCs emitted into the atmosphere from consumer products is imperative to California's commitment to cleaner air, to protect public health and the environment. The California Consumer Products Regulation establishes limits on the VOC content of AWWF.
What kinds of AWWF are affected by the Regulation?
- Pre-mixed AWWF that is typically sold in gallon-size containers, labeled "summer formula" or "protects to +32 degrees." The regulation for this type is 1% VOC content, and it can be sold anywhere in California.
- Pre-mixed AWWF that is typically sold in gallon-size containers labeled "winter formula", "protects to zero degrees," or something similar. The regulation for this type is 25% VOC content, and it is only allowed to be sold in Type "A" areas of California.
- Dilutable, or Concentrated AWWF, typically sold in 1-quart size containers. The regulation for this type is that it must clearly state on the front label that it is a concentrate, or dilutable, and on the back it must have clear instructions of how to dilute it to Type "A" area specifications and to non-Type "A" area specifications. It is available anywhere in California, and is most often found at automotive supply stores and service stations.
- Service stations filling customers’ windshield washer fluid reservoirs must abide by the VOC limits for their location.In a Type "A" area, a service station may not fill an AWWF reservoir with AWWF above the 25% VOC limit, and service stations located in other areas of the state are required to fill AWWF reservoirs with up to only 1% VOC AWWF.
For further clarification, pre-mixed AWWF may be sold in containers greater than one quart, but less than 10 gallons. Dilutable AWWF is sold in containers that are one quart or less, or 10 gallons or more. Currently, AWWF sold in Type "A" areas is limited to 25% VOC, meaning pre-mixed AWWF will have no more than 25% VOC, and dilutable AWWF, when properly diluted, will contain no more than 25% VOC.All other areas of California (non-Type "A" areas) are limited to selling 1% VOC in pre-mixed AWWF.
Note Figures 1, 2, and 3 are being updated to reflect the change to include the entire Meadow Vista ZIP code (ZIP Code: 95722) in Type "A" areas.
Type "A" areas are
clearly defined by the county lines. However, in Placer County, there
is a boundary
between the Sacramento Valley Air Basin and the Mountain Counties Air
Basin that is not clearly defined by conventional maps. The boundary is
called "Range 9 east, M.D.B. & M." Only east of this line is
of Placer County which is a Type "A" area, excpt that the entire zip
code for Medow Vista (zip code 95722) is included as Type "A" area.
Figure 1 illustrates Range 9 east, M.D.B. & M., the black line dividing the Type "A" area and non-Type "A" area, running through Placer County, bordered by the Nevada County line to the north, and the El Dorado county line to the south. It is in a rural area between the towns of Auburn to the west, and Applegate to the east. On Interstate 80, it is between Neils Road (Exit 124) and Placer Hills Road (Exit 125). The Type "A" area is east (to the right) of Range 9 east, M.D.B. & M.
Click on the map or Figure 1 text for a larger image.
Dividing line of Type "A" and non-Type "A" areas
in Placer County
Figures 2 and 3 are detailed street maps of the Type "A"/non-Type "A" areas within Placer County.
If the enlarged image does not appear large enough to read clearly in your web browser, you may have to save the file, then open the picture in a different image viewer. (You can save the file by right-clicking on the enlarged version of the picture and hitting "save picture as...")
Close-up street map, northern Placer County
Close-up street map, southern Placer County
What constitutes compliant labeling of dilutable AWWF?
A compliant label on dilutable AWWF must have the following in order to be sold in California:
- The front label must clearly state that the product is a concentrate and must be diluted.
- The label must have clear instructions of how to properly dilute the product in Type "A" and in non-Type "A" areas. A sticker with this information affixed to the back of the container is permissible.
- The Type "A" Area dilution instructions must indicate a concentration of VOC no more than 25%. (See Section 94509(b) of the Consumer Products Regulation.)
- The container must be date-coded for the Julian day and year upon which it was manufactured, or meet other date-coding requirements detailed in the Consumer Products Regulation, Sections 94512(b) and c).
label may also include language advising consumers to dilute to Type
specifications if traveling to areas where freezing temperatures are
Is there a sell-through period for the labeling requirements?
Yes, there is a three-year sell-through period for properly date-coded AWWF manufactured on or before the finalized date of the Regulation: August 6, 2010.See the Consumer Products Regulation, Section 94512(c) for specific requirements.