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California South Coast Air Quality considers prohibiting TBAC & PCBTF solvents

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Business Practices | Collision Repair
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A California South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) rule applicable to compliant cleaning operations using solvents to remove oil, grease, and other contaminants could soon be revised.

Rule 1171 was adopted in 1991, and last revised in 2009, to limit volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions in the use, storage, and disposal of solvent-cleaning materials such as wiping clean by hand or spray gun cleaning.

The district the rule applies to includes large areas of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernadino counties.

Following the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA)’s determination in 2020 that tertbutyl acetate (TBAC) and parachlorobenzotrifluoride (PCBTF) contain carcinogens it has been recommended that both be prohibited for sale and use within the district.

An amendment to Rule 1171 will be proposed that assesses the feasibility of the prohibitions including how to reduce emissions from
auto body shops, which could prohibit the use of PCBTF.

The amendment is also the result of an action established in the South Los Angeles Community Emission Reduction Plan, which initiated rulemaking to reduce emissions from auto body shops by requiring best management practices to be followed. SCAQMD would write the best management practices.

The SCAQMD is considering the following potential strategies to prohibit the use of TBAC and PCBTF:

    • Use alternative solvents that comply with current VOC limits
    • Use alternative solvents that may require increased VOC limits where needed to phase out TBAC and PCBTF, which is similar to a November 2022 amendment to Rule 1168 regarding adhesive and sealant applications.

Currently, SCAQMD staff is gathering information about the use of TBAC and PCBTF in solvent-cleaning operations. So far, it has found out from suppliers that the use of PCBTF is limited. SCAQMD said it doesn’t know of any cleaning solvents that contain TBAC, and that facilities likely use lower VOC solvents.

The planned approach is for SCAQMD to identify operations that use TBAC or PCBTF for solvent cleaning and find alternative solvents or cleaning methods according to the industry.

SCAQMD is seeking more information from industries, suppliers, and stakeholders on the use of TBAC and PCBTF. They plan to visit auto body shops soon to see how the solvents are being used and will compare VOC limits at other agencies that are established for those types of facilities.

“Once we understand the solvent use, then we can start looking into the potential methods to reduce emissions from that solvent use,” said Melissa Gamoning, air quality specialist, during a SCAQMD working group meeting on Tuesday. “We have very limited information so we do hope that any stakeholders out there who may think they might be affected by this rule [will] reach out to us.”

Pacific Resource Recovery (PRR), a widely used waste hauler and supplier of solvent to body shops in Los Angeles County, decided to stop selling solvent earlier this month, according to a Jan. 3 letter. Feb. 29 is the last day to place solvent orders with PRR.

For more information, visit SCAQMD’s proposed rules page, which provides meeting information and documents about Rule 1171. Other working group meetings will be held but the dates haven’t been announced.


Featured image: Stock photo of a spray gun. (Credit: kool99/iStock)

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