News Release

T – 22 – 16
Barbara A. Lee, Director


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 30, 2016

Contact: Ben Edokpayi
(916) 322-4799
Benjamin.edokpayi@dtsc.ca.gov

New Regulations for Brake Pads Sold in California

On Sunday, there will be a new regulation for brake pads sold in California. The regulations are designed to reduce the amount of toxic chemicals released from brakes into California’s waterways and help comply with the federal Clean Water Act. The Clean Water Act (CWA) is the primary federal law in the United States governing water pollution.

 

An estimated 1.3 million pounds of copper in dust from brake pads produced from vehicles braking on roadways was released into California’s waterways and the environment in 2010, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Copper and other trace elements are essential for biological activity, but can become detrimental at higher concentrations.

 

The regulations for copper-free brake pads are written in the California Code of Regulations sections 66387.1 through 66387.9. They are the product of a successful five-year collaboration among the Department of Toxic Substances Control, the brake friction material industry, nongovernmental organizations and the state of Washington. The Office of Administrative Law (OAL) approved regulation text with the Secretary of State (SOS) on Dec. 5, 2016 to enable the regulation to become effective on January 1, 2017.

 

Manufacturers of brake pads sold in California must begin phasing out any brake pads that have more than .5 percent of copper by weight. Makers and sellers have eight years to deplete their inventory of non compliant pads before selling such pads will be prohibited in the state. The regulations also require the manufacturers of brake friction materials to test their products and have those results certified by a third-party agency. The testing certification agency is responsible for reviewing and certifying the manufacturer’s data, and issuing the environmental compliance level.

 

When purchasing brake pads, consumers and auto repair shops can already identify brake pads that comply with the law’s 2014 requirements by looking for package markings that indicate the first level of environmental compliance (see table below). The second level and third level will be mandated in the future on the effective dates indicated.

Effective DateSAE Environmental MarkingPackaging Logo*Description of Environmental Marking
On and After January 1, 2014A"A" Level packaging logo (a leafmark) for brake pads that comply with the law's 2014 requirement

The “A” designator means the brake friction
material contains these compounds below the
following concentrations:


  • 0.01% by weight of cadmium and its compounds.

  • 0.1% by weight of chromium (VI) salts.

  • 0.1% by weight of lead and its compounds.

  • 0.1% by weight of mercury and its compounds.

  • 0.1% by weight of asbestiform fibers.
On and After January 1, 2021B"B" Level packaging logo (a leafmark) for brake pads that comply with the law's 2014 requirement

The “B” designator means the brake friction
material contains less than 5.0% by weight of
copper and also meets the conditions listed for an
“A” designator above.

On and After January 1, 2025N"N" Level packaging logo (a leafmark) for brake pads that comply with the law's 2014 requirement

The “N” designator means the brake friction
material contains less than 0.5% by weight of
copper and also meets the conditions listed for an
“A” designator.

*“The leafmark” logo presented in this table is one example of logo that may appear on packaging for compliant brake pads.

 

The regulations apply to all brake pads sold for use on motor vehicles in California, including tractor trailers, boat trailers, and personal and commercial vehicles. Motorcycles are exempt.

 

The partnerships, which led to the introduction of copper-free brake pads in California, are highlighted in a video recently produced by DTSC.

 

For more information on the California Brake Pad law, please visit DTSC’s Limiting Copper in Brake Pads webpage

# # #

FOR GENERAL INQUIRIES: Contact the Department of Toxic Substances Control by phone at (800) 728-6942 or visit www.dtsc.ca.gov. To report illegal handling, discharge, or disposal of hazardous waste, call the Waste Alert Hotline at (800) 698-6942.

The mission of DTSC is to protect California’s people and environment from harmful effects of toxic substances by restoring contaminated properties, enforcing hazardous waste law, reducing hazardous waste generation, and encouraging the manufacture of chemically safer products.