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.