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ARB fines manufacturer $278,000 for air quality violations tied to sales of cleaning wipes
22 tons of excess air pollution emitted
SACRAMENTO - The California Air Resources Board has fined international manufacturer and distributor of optical products Carl Zeiss Vision Inc. $278,000 for selling general-purpose cleaning wipes that violated California’s air quality regulations.
An ARB investigation revealed that for more than three years Carl Zeiss Vision, which has its U.S. headquarters in San Diego, sold cleaning wipes in California that exceeded a volatile organic compound content limit of 0.5 percent for general purpose cleaners.
VOCs are regulated by the ARB because they react with other pollutants under sunlight to form ground-level ozone, a main ingredient in smog. In this case, it is estimated that close to 22 tons of excess VOCs were emitted as a result of sales to consumers.
“ARB is constantly working to ensure that products sold to consumers in California meet the standards for smog-causing chemicals,” said ARB Enforcement Chief Jim Ryden. “By working with manufacturers to reduce VOC emissions we have, to date, successfully reduced statewide emissions by about 230 tons per day compared to 1990 levels.”
Zeiss manufactured and sold a product for cleaning eye glasses called Lens Cleaning Wipes. Additional cleaning claims made on the product label placed it into a general-purpose cleaner category and, as a result, made it subject to the related air-quality regulations.
The case was settled in April 2014 for an initial payment of $240,000, with an additional $38,000 to be suspended for 18 months pending a reformulation attempt. The company has since relabeled packages for the wipes to indicate they are to be used solely on optical glass, a use that is exempted from the VOC limits. The additional payment would be triggered if the company is unsuccessful in reformulating the product.
All monies collected are paid to the California Air Pollution Control Fund, which provides funding for projects and research to improve California’s air quality.
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.