Utah targets hair spray for emission reductions

2013-06-09T00:05:03Z Utah targets hair spray for emission reductionsThe Associated Press The Associated Press
June 09, 2013 12:05 am  • 

SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah's air quality regulators have taken a final step to ban the sale of aerosols like hair spray with high concentrations of hydrocarbons, raising the hackles of beauty salon owners.

The limits on consumer goods are part of a plan to curb smog that can choke the greater Salt Lake City area. Utah is under pressure from the federal government to reduce emissions.

Changes will start showing up on store shelves by September 2014, regulators said Friday. The same regulation governing hair spray that was adopted by the Utah Air Quality Board on Wednesday limits organic compounds in 88 consumer products, from floor polish to window cleaners.

"I've been called the hair-spray killer," said Joel Karmazyn, an environmental scientist for the Utah Division of Air Quality, who brushes off the criticism of salon owners. "I've been called worse."

Hair spray isn't going away. Manufacturers already make environmentally friendly -- and more expensive -- propellants sold in other U.S. metro areas with air pollution problems.

However, reformulated versions of hair spray won't hold some hairstyles, Matt Tribe, manager of Ogden Beauty Supply, said Friday.

Tribe prefers hair spray with 80 percent volatile organic compounds -- the sticky stuff that makes hair hold. Utah's new rule limits the VOC content to 55 percent, which he says doesn't cut it: "There are certain hair styles that absolutely require the hard hold."

Tribe added, "Let's call it a ban because that what's it is. The regulators are saying, 'You're not going to notice the difference. It's the same stuff.' But we're going to have to use crap. And everybody is up in arms about it. It destroys hair spray, but really doesn't do anything to solve air pollution."

Regulators also are tightening limits on volatile organic compounds in paints, coatings and solvents -- local factories and car-repair shops will have to buy reformulated products or install special emissions controls. At hardware stores, consumers could have a hard time finding oil-based paints. Those rules also got final approval Wednesday.

The air-quality board will take up unfinished business Monday when it approves a letter encouraging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to set new standards for cleaner-burning gasoline. Utah regulators say cleaner fuel would accomplish more than anything else they're doing to clean up northern Utah's air.

But hair spray is not an insignificant part of Utah's air pollution problem, said Karmazyn, who worked up an estimate to answer his critics.

Old-fashioned hair spray releases 830 tons of emissions of volatile organic compounds a year across northern Utah, he said.

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