California Air Resource Board (CARB)
CARB Recent Updates
Thursday, September 12, 2019
by: Merediith Petillo

Section: Articles

Related Articles


California - CARB Recent Updates

California must reduce total volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions by 1-2 tons/day in the South Coast (by 2023) and 8-10/day statewide (by 2031).  In order to achieve this goal, CARB’s rulemaking process remains ongoing, with personal care products under consideration for imminent changes to close perceived loopholes.  The very definition of fragrance and low vapor pressure volatile organic compounds (LVP-VOC) may be changed.  This is important because LVP-VOCs are currently exempt from total product VOC content in consumer goods.  VOC emissions surveys were conducted for consumer products for 2013, 2014 and 2015.  Likely candidates for immediate impact due to regulatory action are deobody sprays, hair sprays, dry shampoo sprays and antiperspirants/deodorants. 

Relevant to CARB’s work in California, a multi-state organization, the Ozone Transport Commission, has been formed to advise the EPA on air pollution reduction solutions for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.  While OTC does not have rulemaking authority, model rules are generated by the Commission and can be presented to member state legislatures which leaves room for possible new state level legislation in the future.

What is CARB?

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is a state agency charged with responsibility for protecting the public from harmful effects of air pollution.  Their work spans numerous industries and includes over 100 programs.  Certain cosmetics and personal care products are covered by one or more of these programs.  The California Legislature gives CARB Rulemaking authority to create regulations in order to achieve their directive.

General Consumer Products Regulation

Limits (percent by weight) are set for volatile organic compound (VOC) in many consumer products, including certain cosmetic categories.  Some cosmetic product categories that are covered are hair styling products, nail polish remover, deodorants/antiperspirants, perfume & cologne. Cosmetic products subject to this regulation cannot exceed the set VOC limits when sold in California. 


CARB is authorized to enforce the regulation by seeking per unit civil monetary penalties when violations are found.  These penalties can significantly increase with repetitive and large-scale violations.


Fragrance contained in Personal Fragrance Products such as colognes, perfumes and sprays with the primary purpose of adding scent or making malodor is fully exempt.  Consumer Products (which includes personal care products) and antiperspirants & deodorants have an exemption for included fragrance up to 2%. * 

*must met the CARB definition of a fragrance and have a vapor pressure <2mmHg @20C.