A trap for unwary manufacturers and retailers is the California Air Resources Board (CARB) regulations for consumer and other products sold in the state. These rules limit the concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other greenhouse gas–producing chemicals. CARB enforces these regulations with civil penalties and demands for stipulated injunctions. The regulations often apply a step-down approach to require ever-smaller amounts of these chemicals over an extended time period.

Starting on January 1, 2017, CARB’s newest set of restrictions will become effective for various consumer product and aerosol coating categories. Specifically, the new regulatory requirements apply to certain spray adhesives and aerosol coatings containing VOCs, chemicals that promote global warming, and other specific toxic substances.

A “sell-through” provision will allow the sale of old product inventories through January 1, 2020, if the products are properly marked with the date of manufacture or a code-date approved by CARB. Sellers must follow complicated notice procedures regarding the last date these “old” products can be sold. The following tables show the affected product categories.

Table 1 Consumer Products Standards (17 Cal. Code Regs. §§ 94509(a), 94509(n))

1 Global Warming Potential value or “GWP value” as specified in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPPC) Second Assessment Report (SAR). Use of any chemical compound that has a GWP value of 150 or greater is prohibited.

2 The regulation contains exemptions for fragrances (in an amount of up to 2 percent by weight) and low vapor pressure VOCs. See sections 94510(c) and (d), respectively.

Table 2 Consumer Product Categories in Which Use of Methylene Chloride, Perchloroethylene, and Trichloroethylene Is Prohibited (17 Cal. Code Regs. § 94509(m)(1))

CARB already prohibits the identified chemicals in a large number of product categories. In addition, the U.S. EPA has included these chemicals as part of the first 10 chemicals for its evaluation of potential risks to human health and the environment under the new provisions of the recently amended Toxic Substances Control Act.

Table 3 Aerosol Coating Reactivity Limits (17 Cal. Code Regs. § 94522(a))

Product Category Reactivity Limit (Grams Ozone/Gram Product) Sell-Through Date
General Coatings
Clear Coating 0.85 1/1/2020
Flat Coating 0.80 1/1/2020
Fluorescent Coating 1.30 1/1/2020
Metallic Coating 1.25 1/1/2020
Nonflat Coating 0.95 1/1/2020
Primer 0.70 1/1/2020
Specialty Coatings (A)
Auto Body Primer 0.95 1/1/2020
Electrical/Electronic/Conformal Coating 2.00 1/1/2020
Exact Match Finish Automotive 0.95 1/1/2020
Exact Match Finish Engine 0.95 1/1/2020
Exact Match Finish Industrial 1.20 1/1/2020
Flexible Coating 1.60 1/1/2020
Ground Traffic/Marking Coating 0.85 1/1/2020
Mold Release Coating 1.10 1/1/2020
Two Component Coating 1.20 1/1/2020
Uniform Finish Coating 1.30 1/1/2020

As the United States transitions to a new administration in 2017, state environmental and consumer product regulations will take on new importance. States with large markets, such as California, can impose restrictions with an outsized effect on national and international manufacturers, distributors, and retailers.

Morrison & Foerster regularly tracks new consumer-product requirements and participates in agency rulemaking for its clients.

Lois Miyashiro, an environmental analyst in the firm’s San Francisco office, assisted in the preparation of this client alert.