Frequently Asked Questions - Abusable Volatile Chemicals Program
Questions and Answers
To meet the legal definition of an Abusable Volatile Chemical (AVC), the product in question must be a consumer product that is either nitrous oxide OR a product that meets BOTH of the following criteria:
The product label contains the federally-required two-word warning "VAPOR HARMFUL" in all capital letters AND
The product may (has the potential to) affect a persons’ central nervous system; create or induce in a person a condition of intoxication, hallucination, or elation; or change, distort, or disturb a person’s eyesight, thinking process, balance, or coordination when inhaled, ingested, or otherwise introduced into a person’s body.
The Abusable Volatile Chemical Act specifically exempts pesticides, food, drugs, cosmetics, and alcoholic beverages from the definition of an AVC.
The "VAPOR HARMFUL" warning is required on consumer products by a federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) law that regulates products containing certain types of chemicals. Since different product brands have their own chemical formulas, one brand of a product may be an AVC while another brand is not. Therefore, it is important to check the labels of all products for the "VAPOR HARMFUL" warning to determine whether or not they may be AVCs. (Please note that warnings such as “Vapors may be harmful” are not equivalent to the CPSC warning of “VAPOR HARMFUL.”)
In addition, the reason that the AVC definition uses the phrase “may affect a person’s central nervous system” is because some individuals may experience a diminished narcotic effect over time when they repeatedly abuse these products. Therefore, if the consumer product has the potential to have a narcotic effect and is labeled “VAPOR HARMFUL,” then the product should be assumed to be an AVC.
As stated above, nitrous oxide sold as a consumer product is also specifically included in the definition of an AVC under the law. Please note that nitrous oxide sold as a consumer product is an AVC regardless of the warnings it has on the label. It is commonly sold in small gas cylinders resembling the CO2 cartridges used in air-powered BB guns. In recent years, nitrous oxide has been heavily abused by minors, so despite the fact that nitrous oxide cartridges can have a legitimate use (it is used by restaurants and consumers to make homemade whipped cream and desserts), all retail sales of nitrous oxide to consumers are regulated under the Texas AVC law. Finally, it should be noted that nitrous oxide that is sold as a drug (such as nitrous oxide cylinders supplied as an anesthetic agent for use in hospital and dental facilities) does not require an AVC sales permit because all drugs regulated by the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act are specifically exempted from the Texas AVC law.
Aerosol (spray) paints are also specifically mentioned in the AVC law and will meet the AVC definition because they will be labeled “VAPOR HARMFUL” and may produce a narcotic effect when abused.
No. There is no specific list of consumer products that would be considered AVC products under the Texas AVC law. New consumer products that require the “VAPOR HARMFUL” label under the CPSC labeling law may be brought on the market at any time. In addition, existing AVC products may be removed from the market at any time as safer or more effective alternative products are developed. Also, as noted in the answer to Question #1 above, one brand of a consumer product may contain chemical ingredients that make it an AVC, while another manufacturer may produce a similar product that does not have the same or even similar chemical ingredients and therefore might not qualify as an AVC product.
If your business sells at retail even one AVC product, then you will need to obtain an AVC Permit for your business. If you have only one questionable consumer product that you think may be an AVC product, and you are unsure whether you really need to obtain an AVC Permit for selling that product, please email the AVC Permit Program or telephone (512) 834-6600.
Retail establishments that are located in Texas and sell consumer products that are regulated as Abusable Volatile Chemicals are required to obtain an AVC sales permit. Most convenience, hardware, auto parts, grocery, and hobby stores sell one or more AVC products and will be required to obtain an AVC Permit. However, there are many other types of stores that sell AVC products at retail that will also be required to obtain an AVC Permit. Even wholesale businesses that occasionally sell AVC products at retail will be required to obtain an AVC Permit. If you are not sure whether your business is required to obtain an AVC Permit, please contact the AVC Permit Program by telephone at (512) 834-6600 or by email the AVC Permit Program.
Obtain an AVC Permit from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) AVC Permit Program.
Make the AVC Permit available for inspection by the public or a DSHS representative (such as a DSHS Regional Inspector).
Obtain an AVC Warning Sign from the AVC Permit Program or a DSHS Inspector and display the Warning Sign in a conspicuous place in the business establishment.
Restrict sales of all AVC products to purchasers who are at least 18 years of age.
Restrict access to any aerosol (spray) paint or set up a computerized checkout system that alerts the cashier when aerosol paint is being purchased, so that the cashier may verify that the purchaser is at least 18 years of age.
Selling an AVC product at a retail location that does not have an AVC Permit is a violation of the AVC law (Health & Safety Code, Chapter 485). Therefore, if your business has AVC products and does not yet have an AVC Permit, then you must remove all of the AVC products from your store shelves until the permit is obtained. In addition, retail sale of an AVC product to a person who is less than 18 years of age is a violation of the AVC law.
The Abusable Volatile Chemical Act was enacted in order to prohibit the retail sale of consumer products that contain abusable volatile chemicals (AVCs) to any person who is less than 18 years of age and to educate the public about the dangers of AVCs. Recreational use of AVCs can cause both short and long-term adverse health effects, including impaired memory, slurred speech, impaired vision, and seizure, as well as permanent loss of muscle control, tremors, nerve damage, and death. AVCs are frequently the first consciousness-altering substances abused by children.
For each individual retail location, you will be required to pay a $57.00 permit filing fee. This fee can be paid by credit/debit card or by electronic bank funds transfer.
The term of an AVC Permit is two years.
Download the AVC Warning Sign from the Forms and Publications page on this website. It is only available in PDF format and must not be altered. You may also request hard copies of the AVC Warning Sign by contacting the AVC Permit Program by telephone at 512-834-6600 or via email to the AVC Permit Program.
No. Only retail businesses that sell AVC products to consumers are required to obtain the AVC Permit. If the owner or operator of a retail business chooses not to purchase and sell AVC products, then no AVC Permit is required. However, it is very important for owners and/or operators of such retail businesses to monitor their inventory throughout the year to ensure that nitrous oxide and other AVC products are not being sold in their stores. If they find an AVC product in their inventory, they must discontinue the sale of that product immediately and either dispose of the product or apply for an AVC Permit. AVC items that are removed from the shelf may not be sold to consumers at regular or discounted prices.
DSHS sends out renewal notices approximately 30-45 days in advance of the permit expiration date. Renewal notices are sent to the current mailing address on record for each permitted facility, so it is important to notify the AVC Permit Program if you change your mailing address. After the renewal notice has been received, the business is required to renew online via the Regulatory Services Online Licensing System. Please note that you can only use online licensing system to renew if your AVC Permit is active and is within 45 days of its expiration date, and there are no changes to be made to the existing permit information currently listed in the system. Any updates or changes to business location require you to submit an initial application as the permit is tied to the physical location.
If you do not receive your renewal notice, you should take one of the following actions:
Please note: It is the responsibility of the permit holder to keep the AVC Permit Program informed of their current mailing address and to renew the permit in a timely manner, whether or not the permit holder has received the renewal notification from the Program.
If your AVC Permit is expired and more than 60 days have passed since its expiration date, then you will need to apply for a newAVC Permit.
You may contact the AVC Permit Program by telephone at (512) 834-6600 or via email to the AVC Permit Program, to request a copy of your facility’s permit. You should receive a copy of the permit within 10 days of the Program’s receipt of your request. Keep in mind that you cannot sell AVC Products until you have obtained a copy of the permit.
An AVC Permit cannot be transferred to a new location or a new owner. Therefore, if you sell your business, and the new owner is planning to sell AVC products, then the new owner will be responsible for applying for a new AVC Permit for the business and paying the $57.00 permit filing fee.
If you are moving your business from the physical address listed on the AVC Permit to a new physical address, then you will need to apply for a new AVC Permit for the new location and you will be required to pay the $57.00 permit filing fee for a new two-year permit.
If the business is closing or no longer selling AVC products, send the original permit back to DSHS with a letter stating to close out the permit. By submitting this information, you should avoid receiving future renewal notice reminders. If a renewal notice is sent to you after you have closed out your permit, then there is no need to reply to the renewal notice you received.
No, the AVC Permit Program cannot refund any portion of a permit filing fee once the permit has been issued. The permit filing fee is charged to cover the agency’s costs of administering the program.
When you pay your permit filing fee through the Regulatory Services Online Licensing System system, you will be able to print a Receipt Page that confirms that you have made the fee payment by either credit/debit card or electronic check.