Perfume, dishwashing and laundry detergents, starches, shoe polish, insecticides and car wax are among the targets being considered in the third round of restrictions aimed at reducing pollution of California air by common consumer products.
The state Air Resources Board is expected to evaluate the latest list in October, about a year after imposing regulations on 16 products ranging from hair spray to floor polish and two years after enacting a rule governing underarm deodorants. The board's staff held its first public workshop last week on 30 product categories to collect information for setting standards.
The continuing push to clean up the pollutants that Californians spray and allow to evaporate each day illustrates the extraordinary complexity of the state's smog problem.
Controls on factories and cars are major keys to improving air quality, but authorities say those steps are not enough to meet state and federal standards. As the population continues to boom, the cumulative effect of 30 million people going about their household routines can contribute more to eye-irritating, lung-damaging smog than do scores of refineries.
What the products on the list have in common is emission of hydrocarbons, which mix with nitrogen oxides to form ozone. In the upper reaches of the atmosphere, ozone shields the planet from the sun's ultraviolet radiation. But at ground level, it is a health-threatening air pollutant.
"If a product has a smell, it probably has (hydrocarbons)," said Ralph Engel, president of the Chemical Specialty Manufacturers Assn. "That's a good test."
Most of the products are expected to remain on store shelves well after 1993, when the first new standards take effect. "We are not banning any products," said ARB spokesman Bill Sessa.
Manufacturers could reformulate their wares to reduce pollution and comply with state regulations, Sessa said. In addition, the ARB is contemplating an "innovative products" clause that would allow manufacturers to keep their current mix of ingredients if they could reduce the frequency of use or otherwise guarantee that fewer pollutants escape into the atmosphere.
Still, manufacturers are continuing to argue that changes could make many products both less effective and more expensive. Some items, they add, could no longer be produced.
Indeed, Engel said he intends to challenge portions of both the second and this latest phase before the board in the fall.
"As an industry, we're committed to do our share, but we want to make sure we're just doing our share," said Engel, whose organization is based in Washington. "And I don't think the people in your state want to be devoid of effective products."
Of the latest list, he said that automotive brake cleaners, car leather and vinyl cleaners, fabric protectors, waterproofing products, household glues and cements, sealants and caulks might have trouble staying on the market if they had to be made with less polluting formulas.
Engel emphasized that "these are guesses, because we don't have the data yet."
Makers of perfumes, after-shaves, toilet water and cologne say their products, also on the latest list, could vanish from California stores as well.
"It is the scent, complex and unique to each fragrance brand, that is being marketed or sold. It is the scent that the consumer likes or dislikes, and that ultimately determines the success or failure of the product," testified Thomas J. Donegan Jr., vice president of the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Assn., at last week's hearing.
"Due to the complexity of these formulations and the importance of each individual ingredient . . . existing fragrances cannot be reformulated," Donegan said.
Experiments with adding water to fragrance products to dilute the pollutant have resulted in "globules and gunk," Engel said in an interview Wednesday.
Also on the latest list are aerosol food products, anti-static sprays, automotive bug and tar removers, automotive chrome polishes, tire dressings, wheel cleaners, carburetor cleaners, disinfectants, dusting sprays, weed killers, industrial spray buff products, lubricants, metal polishes, paint strippers, rug deodorizers, spot removers and toilet bowl cleaners.
"Individually, any one of these products is a small part of the smog problem, but overall all the use of solvents causes 40% of (non-vehicle) emissions," Sessa said. "Obviously our goal here is to reduce the solvent."
Sessa said the list could grow or shrink before being presented to the board. "We do expect changes," he said. "We won't have a published staff proposal until late August or early September."
Another workshop on the latest list is scheduled for July 16 in Sacramento.