An Opportunity for Smarter Regulations

Written on: July 1, 2018 by Nicholas Georges

The U.S. government has a long history of improving public health and safety through laws and regulations. However, well-intentioned regulations can become outdated, duplicative or overly restrictive in today’s modern and rapidly changing marketplace.

Whether it is under a Republican or Democratic administration, the business community always has the opportunity to point out areas of regulation where a small change can have a big impact. Just such an opportunity arose when the Household & Commercial Products Association (HCPA) met with officials at the U.S. Dept. of Transportation (DOT) on May 14 to share four changes that could have major benefits for consumers and aerosol manufacturers.

The first change is an update to an outdated regulation. In order for the DOT’s Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to initiate rule-making, they must be petitioned and industry must demonstrate “equivalent or better” safety improvements through data, while capturing the cost and benefits of any modifications within the regulations.

Product safety testing regulations benefit from the inclusion of performance-based and safety criteria, rather than being based solely on the use of a specific testing technology. This allows industry to adopt new technologies to enable continuous improvement or advances not envisioned when originally adopted.

This is exactly the case that HCPA made regarding aerosol water bath testing alternatives in a meeting with top officials at PHMSA.

Elevating this issue with PHMSA opens the door for manufacturers to one day explore alternative test methods that are more efficient, cost-effective, sustainable and can be tailored for their specific product or process while meeting or exceeding safety requirements. By moving to performance-based criteria, manufacturers can choose to continue with water bath testing, however HCPA hopes that future work with PHMSA will make more innovative, and equally as safe, alternatives available. As an outcome of the May 14 meeting, HCPA will be working with other trade associations to petition PHMSA to allow alternative testing in place of the water bath test requirement.

The second, third and fourth requests revolve around harmonization of regulations. For international harmonization, we will be asking PHMSA to modify the 49 CFR 173.306 to allow for limited quantities of flammable propellants (Division 2.1 gases) when in plastic aerosol containers. Flammable propellants are currently allowed in metal aerosol containers in the U.S. They are also allowed in plastic aerosol containers under The European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR).

Given that the technology and science around plastic aerosol packaging is poised to evolve well beyond the current list of only four allowed resins, HCPA asked PHSMA to modify the 49 CFR 178.33b-5 to remove the specified material types from which aerosol plastic containers can be manufactured. With both modifications, it will be easier for manufacturers and marketers to bring new and innovative aerosol products to the U.S. market—many of which can already be sold in other parts of the world.

Lastly, we are continuing our efforts to align the U.S. definition of aerosol with the global community. On Sept. 27, 2017, HCPA with allied trade associations, submitted a petition to PHMSA on the Global Harmonization of the Definition of an Aerosol,[1] which PHMSA is still in the process of reviewing—and HCPA was able to emphasize the importance of this issue in the May 14 meeting.

By elevating our issues and making clear arguments for the benefits to consumers and manufacturers, our industry has an opportunity to update and harmonize regulations to better align with the international community, removing inequities in the market.

A collaborative effort among players in the aerosol space will accelerate this process and provide a competitive business environment that will foster innovation. If you have further questions about this opportunity or would like to discuss other regulations the industry should look to improve upon, please do not hesitate to contact me at ngeorges@thehcpa.orgSPRAY

[1] Petition Number P-1707 (Docket No. PHMSA-2017-0131). link (submitted by HCPA formerly known as the Consumer Specialty Products Association)