California has adopted a new regulation that mandates about 2,000 household cleaning products such has window cleaners and metal polishes to be reformulated to reduce smog-forming compounds. The new mandate expects to reduce emissions by nearly seven tons a day in the state. It could also have an impact nationally.

Volatile organic compounds that are highly reactive solvents are used to prepare household cleaners, which also is a source of smog. The household products that figure for reformulation include heavy-duty hand soaps, spot removers, furniture sprays and general purpose cleaning sprays. The reduction of smog from this ruling is equivalent to removing half the cars on California's roads.

The California Air Resources Board adopted the ruling unanimously to ensure that companies sell cleaners that are effective but safe for the environment, said Mary Nichols, chairman of the board. Manufacturers expect the reformulation of the compounds could cost as much as $ 50 million.

Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board, said the new rule, adopted unanimously by the board, will require companies to sell cleaners “that are effective but safe for the environment.”

"We expect to see increased use of surfactant technologies, which we think is a very viable option,” Carla Takemoto, manager of the air board’s technical evaluation section said. “Surfactants tend to be more expensive chemicals than some of the other solvents. But because you use such a small amount of them, it’s still pretty cost-effective to use them.”

The Consumer Specialty Products Assn., a trade group that represents companies that manufacture the products said the new rule is very aggressive, but would comply with the regulation.