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Regulations take aim at our industry.

* The market for household, cleaning and personal care products has undergone considerable change during the past decade as a result of new or amended regulations. On January 1, 2005, another change will take effect. That's when several states will implement new regulations regarding the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in these types of consumer products. The new regulations will undoubtedly have an impact on the marketplace and leave formulators only three potential options:

* Reformulate products to meet VOC limits. This may be achieved by increasing water content in a formulation or by using compounds having sufficiently low vapor pressure to meet VOC exemption criteria. Products like DBE-LVP may be used as an outright replacement or as a supplement, allowing formulators to reduce VOC content to acceptable levels.

* Sell products only into states that have not adopted their own regulations which restrict VOC content of consumer products.

* Discontinue non-compliant products altogether.

The stakes are high for formulators who choose not to comply with the new regulations. They can face hefty fines. In California, for example, fines can reach $50,000 a day for each non-compliant product.

The Objective: Clean Air

Why the changes in the regulations? The most significant driver is a simple, four-letter word: smog. VOCs are carbon-based organic chemicals that evaporate into the atmosphere and react to form ground-level ozone, the main ingredient in smog. A major source of VOCs are solvents, which are found in a variety of paints, household and institutional cleaners, personal care products, lawn and garden products and automotive aftercare products.

California Drives Regulations

In 1991, California became the first state to implement a consumer product regulation in order to improve air quality. This regulation limited VOC content in 24 consumer product categories. In 1998, the EPA followed California's lead, limiting VOC content in the same 24 categories. This regulation applies to all states today.

Since the original list in 1991, California has added 22 more product groups. VOC limits for many of these categories are already in effect, while several will have new or more restrictive limits take effect at the onset of 2005. Products in this latter group include nail polish removers, paint removers, hand cleaners and automotive polishes/waxes.

Other states are beginning to implement stricter standards than those imposed by the EPA. Effective January 1, 2005, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York and Maryland will implement regulations for consumer products similar to those in California. New Jersey and other northeastern states are currently considering comparable legislation.

Not content to stand pat, California has recently proposed regulating another 20 product categories. Falling under this proposal are products for styling hair, coating nails, cleaning toilets and urinals, as well as removing adhesives and graffiti. So the saga will continue.

A National Impact

Although only certain states have elected to implement independent VOC regulations, formulators and users nationwide feel the impact. This is because manufacturers generally choose to produce a single product for distribution throughout the U.S. As a result, their products are formulated to meet the most stringent regulations, typically California's. While some manufacturers may have decided not to sell in California, the addition of four new states makes this option less desirable as these five states comprise approximately 25% of the nation's population.

A Complex Maze

The situation for the consumer product marketplace is complicated because the VOC regulations are inconsistent. For example, California and the EPA have a common limit for VOCs in bathroom and tile cleaners, yet will have different limits for nail polish removers and certain categories of hair care products at the end of 2004. In other cases such as heavy-duty hand cleaners, spot cleaners and paint removers, the EPA imposes no limits while California regulates these categories.

Valid information is critical for formulators as they wind their way through the complex maze of VOC regulations. At Invista, formerly DuPont Textiles & Interiors, we monitor the changing regulatory landscape in order to assist users and formulators alike to understand critical needs and identify potential solutions. Interested parties are welcome to contact us to take advantage of our experience in this arena.

More Information is Available on the Web

* Individuals interested in learning more about the regulations detailed in this column, should visit the following websites: EPA.

California Air Resources Board.

Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Keith Watson is market development manager-consumer products for DBE dibasic esters and DBA dibasic acids at Invista. He can be reached at (302) 999-4813 or E-mail:
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Title Annotation:Regulations/Viewpoint
Author:Watson, Keith
Publication:Household & Personal Products Industry
Date:Apr 1, 2004
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