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January 9,1992 Allan Hirsch
Anti-Smog Standards for More Household Products
SACRAMENTO - Continuing a trend toward requiring more environmentally acceptable products, the Air Resources Board (ARB) today adopted limits on the amount of smog-forming solvent used in 10 types of household products, ranging from insecticides to automotive brake cleaners, that will cut their emissions by an average 30 percent by 1995.
Other products covered by the rules include aerosol cooking sprays, adhesives, dusting sprays, fabric protectants, carburetor choke cleaners, charcoal lighting material, laundry spray starch, and perfumes and colognes.
"We are now moving toward market incentive mechanisms such as environmental labeling, which will maintain California's competitive edge in environmentally-friendly products," said James M. Strock, California Secretary for Environmental Protection.
The new rules do not require any changes in existing perfumes and colognes, but will only require compliance by new fragrances introduced after 1994. Reformulated insecticides must meet the ARB standards in 1996, providing time to be registered with the Federal government.
Combined with similar reformulation standards adopted over the last two years for 17 other types of products such as hair spray, deodorants, room fresheners and glass cleaners, the rules reduce smog-forming hydrocarbons by 60 tons a day, equal to the pollution output in 7.5 million new 1991 model cars.
The most recent standards, adopted after a public hearing in Sacramento, not only reduce pollution, but reflect moves among manufacturers to switch to lower-polluting forms of these products to meet consumer demands. An ARB survey of 2,500 products covered by the latest standards showed that 45 percent already comply, as manufacturers produce more water-based products or substitute solid forms for aerosols.
"As our past experience with these types of standards has shown, we can reduce pollution and keep the products that consumers are accustomed to using," said Jananne Sharpless, ARB chairwoman.
The solvents are used as a diluting agent in some products and as an aerosol to get products out of packaging in other cases. As the airborne solvent evaporates, however, the resulting hydrocarbon, the same pollutant emitted from tailpipes and other major pollution sources, forms photochemical ozone, more commonly called urban smog.
"Many products we use out of necessity in our daily life add more to our daily smog problem than many people realize," said Sharpless. Even though each individual product is a very small cause of pollution, she noted, consumer products of all kinds combined are a significant problem, producing up to 200 tons of hydrocarbon a year, 10 percent of the state's non-automotive emissions.
"Because California's air quality problems are so severe, no individual cause of them can be overlooked, she added. "Reformulating these products -- is, in many ways, no different than the changes that other industries are making to help reduce air pollution and improve the quality of our environment.
"Controlling this pollution is important," she added, "not only because it is significant now, but to prevent increases in air pollution as the population that uses these products increases as well."
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