Maryland's proposed 2017 emissions regulations

Maryland Public Interest Research Group
Last updated: 5/3/2016

Off-gassing limits for manufactured products aim to curb Toxic Pollution

VOCs are ‘precursors’ to ground level ozone, a major public health concern.

Ground level ozone, which is the main component of smog, is pollution that sits just above the earth’s surface, causing poor air quality and contributing to respiratory issues in both healthy and susceptible communities. This type of pollution is not released into the atmosphere itself, but results from a reaction involving volatile organic compounds (VOCs), or ‘off-gassing.’

Maryland’s proposed regulations would reduce VOC levels by 6.1 tons daily.

The Maryland Department of the Environment’s proposed rules cover a wide array of consumer products, ranging from engine degreasers and paint thinners to flooring and adhesives to cosmetics and cleaning supplies. This is not the largest VOC category, but is still significant at nearly 1/3 of VOCs in certain areas. According to the MDE, the new regulations will result in just over 6 tons daily reduction of VOC emissions. Each product category affected (by either revised or new regulations) would see a substantial drop in VOC levels beginning on January 1st, 2017.

Modeled after California’s standards, the rules cover 80% of the market.

California’s standards, which inspired the current VOC limits in a total of 10 states, including MD, apply to the manufacturing formulas of 80% of consumer products. The scope and severity of state VOC regulations has already moved the industry toward low-VOC manufacturing.

As a leader in reducing VOCs, Maryland is working toward cleaner, healthier air.

Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states are expected to adopt the updated rules one-by-one over the next several years, with Maryland as the third state to do so. As with previous regulations, enforcement occurs through mandated emissions reporting by states and manufacturers. These regulations are driven by federally-designated air quality standards, which most of the region has not achieved: Despite progress made through previous pollution-directed limits, Maryland’s air quality is still one of the worst in North America.

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