Making Regulations that Make Sense

When regulators develop environmental standards, they suffer from some of the same challenges facing businesses. One is a shortage of funds, so regulators leverage the work of others agencies. That was the case when New England’s Ozone Transport Commission (OTC) revised their “Model Rule for Solvent Degreasing,” which sets air standards for volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

OTC copied large portions of Rule 1122, an exceedingly stringent regulation developed by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) to address air quality issues in Southern California.  That rule requires a maximum of 25 g/liter VOCs for both aqueous and solvent cleaning. The problem for electronics assembly is that 25 g/liter does not work for many applications; and airless systems may not achieve the needed throughput.

In response, IPC and other groups teamed up to provide technical information to help OTC members better understand the physical, chemical, economic, and public safety factors associated with electronics assembly.

“We also conveyed our observations of the negative consequences on Southern California industry,” said Barbara Kanegsberg of BFK Solutions, who helped pull various industry groups together for a lengthy effort. As a result, the OTC adopted a VOC maximum of 150 grams/liter for electronics assembly.

“We applaud their efforts to develop a regulatory approach that is far more practical, more workable, and that also protects the environment.” Kanegsberg said during the recent IPC/SMTA High-Reliability Cleaning and Conformal Coating Conference.

Kanegsberg added that, in part as a result of comments to the OTC, SCAQMD is now considering reviewing Rule 1122.

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