There are two major programs provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Certification and Verification. Basically, the California EPA Certified the Smart Sonic Stencil Cleaning Process and the U.S. EPA Verified the California Certification. Most people would agree that the California EPA is the most aggressive regulating agency in the world and therefore, the California EPA Certification is more difficult to pass.
First, an application must be submitted to the EPA describing the technology, the environmental benefits and user advantages. Upon review and acceptance by the EPA, the cleaning technology undergoes a comprehensive evaluation for environmental safety, user safety and cleaning efficacy. Lab tests, field tests, user testimonials and actual demonstrations of all claims made by the manufacturer are documented. Obviously, if a process is environmentally safe it must also work well to have any value.
The EPA Certification and Verification Programs do a good job taking the guesswork out of selecting a new cleaning process. Conversely, they can also do a good job in identifying processes that may not perform well or may not be environmentally or user safe. If a process is not EPA Certified, there is probably a very good reason and a thorough investigation should be done to determine why.
There is also something called Clean Air Solvent (CAS) Certification by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD). However, CAS Certification certifies only the chemistry from its original container. It does not take into account the process or resulting waste stream. Stencil cleaning has been identified as the most hazardous process confronting an SMT assembler because of the lead from the solder paste and because of some of the hazardous chemistries associated with cleaning raw solder paste. Just because a chemistry is CAS Certified does not mean that the process is environmentally safe. Only EPA Certification encompasses the entire cleaning process and waste streams. So, when evaluating a hazardous cleaning application, I would not put much weight on a CAS Certified product unless it is also EPA Certified.