Consumer product manufacturers pay nearly $2 million for air quality violations, improving air quality throughout California
SACRAMENTO – The California Air Resources Board over the past 18 months settled 44 cases involving air quality violations by companies that manufactured consumer products that exceeded California’s limits for volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The products ranged from solvents to hair sprays and air fresheners. These settlements mitigated more than 172 tons of excess VOC emissions and 24 tons of toxic air contaminant emissions.
VOCs are gases released from solid or liquid products, which contribute to ozone formation. Ozone, an element of smog, causes respiratory health effects including lung irritation, shortness of breath and coughing, and can aggravate asthma and other lung diseases.
As the initial step in the supply chain, manufacturers serve a critical role in formulating products that are compliant with California standards. Manufacturers are expected to be familiar with CARB regulations, to take sufficient quality control measures, and to label their products’ uses for the applicable category. Manufacturers must also consistently inform distributors and retailers of the products’ compliance.
“These products are used daily in almost every California household. Manufacturers don’t normally sell directly to consumers, but they do control product formulations. Manufacturers need to notify their sales partners of their products’ compliance status so that consumers are protected before the product is even sold,” explains CARB Enforcement Division Chief Todd Sax.
Cases settled in the past 18 months totaled $1,824,385. Of this, violators funded Supplemental Environmental Projects totaling $198,000, including Coalition for Clean Air, Environmental Justice Network, and the Kettleman City Asthma Intervention Program. Five of the case settlements exceeded $100,000, including a $600,000 settlement with W.M. Barr & Company Inc., and a $220,000 settlement with The Sherwin-Williams Company. Among the air quality violations by W.M. Barr, the Memphis, Tenn.-based company sold, supplied and offered for sale paint thinners and multi-purpose solvents, which contained concentrations of VOCs and aromatic compound content that exceeded California standards. The company’s violations, in total, resulted in excess emissions of close to 82 tons of VOCs, 8.4 tons of aromatic compounds and 5.2 tons of ozone-forming compounds into the atmosphere. The company stopped sales of noncompliant products and modified other products to meet California’s regulatory requirements.
Settlements since January 2019 involved the following manufacturers:
Manufacturers carry the greatest responsibility of supplying California with consumer products that comply with emission standards. Their diligence in the creation, importation, and distribution of products significantly impacts California’s air quality.
This release is the second in a series on recent Consumer Products enforcement activities, discussing the role of retailers, distributors, and manufacturers.