How one VOC regulation leads to another…

Written on: June 1, 2018 by Nicholas Georges

Since being approved in 1990, the California Air Resource Board (CARB) has set a high bar for consumer product emission standards and provided a model for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), numerous other states and Canada. On Oct. 11, 1990, CARB approved the Consumer Products Regulation, establishing volatile organic compound (VOC) limits for numerous categories of consumer products. The regulation became legally effective on Oct. 21, 1991 and CARB has been the regulatory leader in this space ever since.

Relying on a strong scientific basis, CARB has worked with industry to ensure that products continue to enhance the lives of consumers and workers while meeting California’s rigorous emission standards. Due to this strong foundation, CARB’s regulations have become the model for the EPA National Volatile Organic Compound Emission Standards for Consumer Products[1], the Ozone Transport Commission (OTC) Model Rule[2] and Environmental and Climate Change Canada (ECCC)[3].

Not only has CARB’s Regulation for Reducing Emissions for Consumer Products served as a model for the EPA, but its Regulation for Reducing the Ozone Formed from Aerosol Coating Product Emissions has also served as a model for EPA National Volatile Organic Compound Emission Standards for Aerosol Coatings[4]. On April 18, 2018, EPA published its plan to submit an information collection request (ICR)—“National Volatile Organic Compound Emission Standards for Aerosol Coatings”—to the Office of Management & Budget (OMB) for review and approval. This is a proposed extension to the ICR, which is currently approved through Oct. 31, 2018.

EPA is currently accepting comments to evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary and practical, the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden to collect the information, ways to improve the information being collected and how to minimize the burden for respondents. One of the comments HCPA will be providing the EPA is the need to update its Maximum Incremental Reactivity (MIR) tables[5] to align with the changes CARB made to its table[6] in 2010, based on updated information provided by the University of California, Riverside and peer-reviewed by independent researchers. If you manufacture aerosol coatings, please do not hesitate to reach out to HCPA with suggestions on other necessary improvements.

During the past 18 years, HCPA has worked cooperatively with the Ozone Transport Region (OTR) state environmental agency officials, OTC staff, environmental groups and other stakeholders to support the development of regionally consistent regulations for consumer products throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Region of the U.S. HCPA has done this for consistency, not just within the OTR, but so that products are not defined and regulated differently in various parts of the country (i.e. California).

On April 17, 2018, OTC released the Phase V draft of a new Model Rule for Consumer Products. This model rule has been developed by the OTC as part of a regional effort for states in the ozone transport regions to attain and maintain the eight-hour ozone standard as EPA has continued to tighten the U.S. National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS)[1]. The updates in Phase V are based on currently enforceable VOC limits in the CARB regulation and do not include CARB’s future-effective VOC limits and the proposed reactivity-based alternate compliance option for the Multi-Purpose Lubricant products category. HCPA is currently gathering comments and will provide feedback to OTC to assist in development of the model rule.

The OTC is not alone in proposing a new VOC regulation to align with the limits in California. HCPA’s strategic ally, the Canadian Consumer Specialty Products Association (CCSPA), recently informed HCPA that Environmental & Climate Change Canada (ECCC) is currently developing a new proposed VOC regulation that is planned to be issued later this year. Currently, ECCC does not have any consumer product VOC regulations and ECCC’s stated goal is to align with CARB’s regulations (HCPA collaborated with CCSPA in 2008 and 2013 when EEEC was working on VOC regulations, which ended up not being adopted). Going from zero regulations to the CARB definitions and limits presents several challenges, especially for manufacturers who do not sell into California, in addition to the end use consumers and workers who may be shocked by the performance difference these limits create. It is critical that Canada and ECCC do not adopt the limits without fully understanding the foundation of the science and definitions that CARB and industry have worked on for 30+ years. Once ECCC releases a proposal, HCPA will elicit member feedback and work with CCSPA to provide comments to assist in the development of the regulation to minimize compliance costs, while ensuring products maintain their efficacy, especially those uniquely formulated for Canada’s colder climate.

HCPA and its members will continue to proactively collaborate with legislators, regulators, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and stakeholders at all levels of government to improve air quality across the U.S. and in Canada. Contact if you would like to learn more. SPRAY

[1] 40 CFR part 50

[1] 40 CFR Part 59 Subpart C

[2] The text of the current OTC Model Rule is posted here

[3] For a history of ECCC’s actions regarding VOC Emissions from Consumer and Commercial Products, click here

[4] 40 CFR Part 59 Subpart E

[5] 40 CFR Tables 2A, 2B and 2C to Subpart E of Part 59

[6] Cal. Code Regs. Title 17, §§ 94700-01