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Unilever Hair Products Violate Air Pollution Laws

UnileverConopco, a Unilever subsidiary and the consumer goods company’s US business, has agreed to settle two cases and pay $362,500 for air pollution violations related to the sale of hair styling products in California.

Unilever agreed to pay the fine as part of settling two cases with the California Air Resources Board after separate ARB investigations revealed that two products — Motions Oil Sheen & Conditioning Spray and TreSemme Root Busting Spray — manufactured and offered for sale in California by Alberto-Culver Co. contained illegal levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). In both cases the products exceeded a 6 percent VOC limit under a state consumer products regulation.

VOC compounds are regulated by the ARB because they react with other pollutants under sunlight to form ground-level ozone, a main ingredient in smog.

The case was a repeat violation of California’s consumer products regulations for both Unilever and Alberto-Culver, which Unilever purchased in May 2011. The settlement was enhanced as a result, but also reduced in part because Unilever purchased the manufacturer of the product and cooperated with the investigation, ARB says.

ARB estimates that about 17 tons of excess VOCs were emitted as a result of direct sales to consumers of the two products. The case involving Motions Oil Sheen & Conditioning Spray, which resulted in most of those emissions, was settled for $355,000. The second agreement, covering VOC violation for TreSemme Root Busting Spray, was settled for $7,500.

Last month ARB fined Ford $2.96 million for violations of air quality laws related to the sale of vehicles with non-compliant on-board diagnostic (OBD) systems in California.

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