VI. description of product categories

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In this Chapter, we provide for each of the 2004 Amendments product categories: 1) a product category description; 2) information on product use and marketing; 3) information on the product formulations; 4) a discussion of the proposed volatile organic compound (VOC) limit, our rationale for the proposed limit, and the options for compliance; and 5) if applicable, a discussion of the issues associated with the proposed VOC limit, as raised by some of the affected industry. The product categories are in alphabetical order.
A. Adhesive Removers

Product Category Description:

Adhesive Removers are products developed to remove or clean adhesive and adhesive residue of varying compositions from a variety of surfaces using combinations of solubility, swelling, and softening properties. For the purposes of this category, the term “Adhesive,” as defined below, includes glues, and sealants. These terms are commonly used interchangeably.

By simple definition, products labeled as “Adhesive Remover,” generically imply removal of multiple adhesive types. We used a very broad approach in surveying this category for the purpose of capturing the range of products used to remove adhesives. Recognizing the special requirements for different adhesive applications, with assistance of industry, staff subcategorized based on product use. Survey data paralleled this suggestion, indicating the appropriateness and need for subcategorization.
To understand the “Adhesive Remover” category, it is important to describe the various adhesives these products remove. An “adhesive” is a fluid or semi-fluid material consisting of one or more tackifying polymers and/or resins [resin] dissolved in a variety of solvents for the purpose of forming a physical bond between two materials. The dissolved resin is called the adhesive, and forms a physical bond when the solvents evaporate. Some adhesives require a second component (called a hardener) in order to form a secure bond. Adhesives requiring a hardener form physically reactive bonds between two materials. Some reactive adhesives come in two-part mixes, like epoxies or two-part acrylics, requiring the hardener to be mixed with the adhesive before bonding. Other reactive adhesives may use moisture, anaerobic conditions, UV light, or heat as the hardener. Examples of these adhesives, which do not require mixing, include silicones, urethanes, and some acrylics.
Adhesive technology is continually evolving. Today, however, hybridized adhesive systems that incorporate evaporative and reactive adhesive technologies are becoming more common. It should be noted that there are also “hotmelt” adhesives available. Adhesives such as these are not unlike the common household “gluestick.” Hotmelt adhesives are 100 percent solids, heated past their melting point, and applied in their molten state.
Using survey data, product labels, and assistance from manufacturers and industry associations, four product subcategories were identified within the “Adhesive Remover” category. The identified subcategories of “Adhesive Removers” are: “Floor or Wall Covering Adhesive Remover,” “General Purpose Adhesive Remover,” “Specialty Adhesive Remover,” and “Gasket or Thread Locking Adhesive Remover.” Adhesive remover products that remove adhesives intended for use on humans or animals are not included in the “Adhesive Remover” categories. Examples of adhesive removers used on humans or animals include those products to remove adhesives used in the medical or dental field, athletic adhesives, or adhesives associated with nail care.

Product Subcategory Description:

“Floor or Wall Covering Adhesive Remover” are products used to remove floor or wall coverings and the associated adhesive. “General Purpose Adhesive Removers” are products that remove cyanoacrylate adhesives as well as non-reactive adhesives such as hotmelt glues, thermoplastic adhesives, pressure sensitive adhesives, stickers, labels, stencils, et cetera. Non-reactive adhesives bond because of solvent evaporation. “Specialty Adhesive Remover” are products that remove reactive adhesives that are not regulated as “Floor or Wall Covering Adhesive Removers,” “General Purpose Adhesive Remover,” or “Gasket or Thread Locking Adhesive Remover.” Finally, “Gasket or Thread Locking Adhesive Removers” are products used to remove gaskets or thread locking adhesives.

Table VI-1 below, summarizes sales and emissions from “Adhesive Removers,” based on the results of the ARB’s 2001 Consumer and Commercial Products Survey (ARB, 2001). As shown in Table VI-1, “Floor or Wall Covering Adhesive Remover” are one of the larger emission sources within this category, with estimated VOC emissions of about 0.666 tons per day or (1,332 pounds per day) in California.

Table VI-1

Adhesive Removers*

Product Subcategory

Number of Products/

Product Groups

Category Sales (lbs/day)

Adjusted VOC Emissions (lbs/day)**

Floor or Wall Covering Adhesive Remover




General Adhesive Remover




Specialty Adhesive Remover




Gasket or Thread Locking Adhesive Remover




* Based on 2001 Consumer and Commercial Products Survey. (ARB, 2001)

** Survey emissions adjusted for complete market coverage (see Chapter IV, Emissions). The market coverage adjustment for adhesive remover products was 15%; staff believes the 2001 Survey covered 85% of the market.
Table VI-1(a) below, summarizes reactivity data from “Adhesive Removers,” based on the results of the ARB’s 2001 Consumer and Commercial Products Survey (ARB, 2001). As shown in Table VI-1(a), the larger total ozone forming potential comes from products in the “Specialty Adhesive Remover” subcategory, with estimated total ozone forming potential of about 2.152 tons per day in California.

Table V1-1a

Adhesive Removers*

Product Subcategory

Total Ozone Forming Potential (tpd)

Sales Weighted

Average MIR

(lbs ozone /

lbs product)**

Floor or Wall Covering Adhesive Remover



General Adhesive Remover



Specialty Adhesive Remover



Gasket or Thread Locking Adhesive Remover



* Based on 2001 Consumer and Commercial Products Survey. (ARB, 2001)

** Survey emissions adjusted for complete market coverage (see Chapter IV, Emissions). The market coverage adjustment for adhesive remover products was 15%; staff believes the 2001 Survey covered 85% of the market.

Product Use and Marketing:

Adhesive removers are utilized by many types of consumers for a variety of adhesive removal needs. These products are sold in a variety of sales outlets including hardware stores and wholesalers; home centers; paint stores; hobby and craft stores; supermarkets and other grocery stores; automotive parts and accessories stores; and by mass merchandisers. Adhesive removers are also sold to industrial or institutional users through distributors or through direct sales by the manufacturer.

Floor or Wall Covering Adhesive Removers are products used to remove floor or wall coverings and the associated adhesive. Floor or wall coverings are indoor or outdoor, non-structural, decorative finishing materials, including counter top finishes. Floor or wall covering adhesive removers are formulated using both VOC and non-VOC technologies, including chlorinated solvents such as methylene chloride. These products may be marketed for multipurpose or specialty uses. Examples of how these products are labeled include: adhesive remover or cleaner for: mastic; carpet and glues; wet and cured urethane flooring adhesive; wallpaper; acrylic; cutback; latex; tiles; cove base; or sealer and adhesive remover.

Directions for product use vary by application. Many products recommend removing as much of the decorative covering as possible before applying the adhesive remover. To remove adhesive beneath porous coverings like wallpaper or carpet, directions suggest application by spraying or pouring the remover onto the covering. For semi or non-porous coverings like wood flooring or tiles, directions recommend saturating the covering with remover and allowing it to soak in and soften the adhesive. For tiles, holes may need to be drilled into the covering to allow for remover penetration. Difficult to remove coverings may require the surface be covered with foil for better results. After a recommended period of time, the surface is scraped using a floor or razor scraper to remove adhesive or covering residue. Typically the product is reapplied, and agitated using a bristled broom or floor scrubber to further soften or liquefy the adhesive. A large scraper or shovel is used to pry the covering from the substrate (if not previously removed), or to scrape the adhesive for removal. The final step is a wash and rinse of the surface.

General Purpose Adhesive Removers, as touched upon earlier, are typically products that remove non-reactive adhesives such as hotmelt glues; thermoplastic adhesives; pressure sensitive adhesives; resin cements; dextrine or starch-based adhesives; rubber or latex-based adhesives; as well as products that remove paper related items including stickers; labels; stencils; or similar adhesives (ARB, 2001), (Glue).
Although cyanoacrylate adhesives are technically “reactive,” survey data (ARB, 2001) as well as industry consensus, suggest that most cyanoacrylate adhesives can be removed using acetone. We included cyanoacrylate adhesive removers in this subcategory because many consumers consider “super glues” to be a general purpose adhesive.

Many products in this category are used to remove pressure sensitive adhesives commonly used for stickers; labels; decals; et cetera because they adhere to most surfaces with very slight pressure. Pressure sensitive adhesives are available in solvent and emulsion based forms. Pressure sensitive adhesives are often based on non-reactive rubber adhesives, acrylics, or polyurethanes (ARB, 2001). Pressure sensitive adhesives form viscoelastic bonds that are aggressively and permanently tacky; adhere without the need of more than a finger or hand pressure; and require no activation by water, solvent or heat. Pressure sensitive adhesives are available in a wide variety of resin systems and bond strengths (Global).

Adhesive removers in this subcategory are sold in both aerosol and non-aerosol forms and typically are high in VOC content. Products may be sprayed; poured; or applied with a cloth to remove the adhesive. In addition to dissolving the adhesive, some products may be formulated to swell and soften the adhesive. Products in this subcategory recommend that the dissolved or soft adhesive is scraped away with a spatula or putty knife, and wiped clean with a damp or dry cloth.

Specialty Adhesive Removers are products that remove reactive

adhesives such as epoxies; acrylics; adhesive vinyl welds; urethanes; silicones; or structural adhesives and sealants. Reactive adhesives usually require two components, and often require the two components to be mixed together to form a polymerized (crosslinked) structure. A typical two component system involves an adhesive polymer or resin (part A) and a hardener or catalyst (part B). Mixing part A with part B initiates a chemical reaction that produces a very strong bond, as is the case with an epoxy. As mentioned previously, not all reactive adhesives require mixing. Some reactive adhesives are formulated such that the crosslinking may be initiated through exposure to an external element such as moisture; ultra violet light; heat; or anaerobic conditions. Urethane adhesives are an example of non-mixed, reactive adhesives because they react with moisture to form a polymerized structure.

Many believe that reactive adhesives are more difficult to remove than non-reactive adhesives. However, as noted with cyanoacrylate adhesives, this is not always the case. Nevertheless, reactive adhesive removers may require a combination of solvents to dissolve and untangle adhesive bonds, as well as ingredients that swell and soften the adhesive. Swelling the adhesive enlarges the openings in the polymeric resin, allowing smaller, penetrating solvents to maneuver between the bonds, softening and lifting the adhesive from the substrate. The adhesive is scraped away with a spatula or putty knife, and the surface is wiped clean with a damp cloth and allowed to dry. Directions may also recommend more than one application for removal of difficult adhesives.
“Gasket or Thread Locking Adhesive Removers” are excluded from the “Specialty Adhesive Remover” subcategory.

Gasket or Thread Locking Adhesive Removers are products used to remove gaskets or thread locking adhesives. Gaskets are materials located between two flanges clamped together to ensure the integrity of the seal. They can be made from many different materials, including silicone, which is well-known in the marketplace. Many silicone gaskets are moisture cured – they react with moisture in the air or in the substrates to form a cured polymer layer with high strength. Thread locking adhesives are anaerobic adhesives that cure to form a solid polymer in the absence of oxygen. These types of adhesives are commonly used to adhere metal parts.

Gasket removers are products applied to remove gasket seals from flat or semi-flat metal parts, while thread locking adhesive removers are used to remove seals used to join cylindrical metal parts, (ie. shafts, bolts, etc.). Products in this subcategory typically perform both functions and are generically marketed as “gasket removers.” Because many products in this subcategory contain varying amounts of methylene chloride, it is common for products to advertise paint removal claims on the labels. Products with paint removal claims may be marketed as “paint & gasket remover,” or display graphics on the label indicating suitable for use for paint removal. Products that suggest suitable use for removing gaskets or thread locking adhesives and paint removal would be included in this subcategory; and subject to the proposed prohibition of chlorinated solvents.

Although survey data exist for only aerosol products, we are also aware of the existence of foaming products. The pressure and force from the aerosol provides a penetrative quality that aids in the swelling and softening of the adhesive. Once sprayed, the product is allowed to sit for 5-10 minutes, then are scraped off with a putty knife or spatula for the removal of gaskets. Once the product softens the threadlocking adhesive on cylindrical parts, the bolt, etc., can be loosened. For difficult to remove adhesive, more than one application may be required. Once the adhesive has been removed, these products suggest that the parts be thoroughly cleaned with a water rinse or damp cloth, and dried before assembly.

It should be mentioned that we are aware that many gasket or thread locking adhesives are “reactive,” and form polymerized bonds. For this reason, some may believe that these products belong in the “Specialty Adhesive Remover” subcategory, therefore subject to the 70 percent VOC limit. We believe that products that remove gaskets or thread locking adhesives do not require a higher VOC limit than what we are proposing. Products in this category remove all types of gaskets, including gaskets that are not reactive, such as preformed gaskets made from cork, cardboard, or rubber. Products in this category also contain solvents such as methylene chloride, and are intended to only “soften” the adhesive enough allowing for the adhesive to be mechanically scraped away. On the other hand, products in the “Specialty Adhesive Remover” may be used on more sensitive substrates where mechanical scraping may harm the substrate, especially if the substrate is painted.

Product Formulation:

Adhesive removers are formulated in both aerosol and non-aerosol forms, and can be based upon VOC or non-VOC technologies. There are hundreds of types of adhesives being manufactured and there are just as many products available to remove the adhesives. Below, are examples of common ingredients found in each of the four adhesive remover subcategories.

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