Many states used to not have laws regulating gas cans and gas can caps. It was perfectly okay to dispense gasoline into a metal or red plastic gas container and just have a simple screw-on cap. However, information provided to the EPA, or Environmental Protection Agency, revealed that tons of toxic fumes were being released into the air by these gas cans--especially by their caps, which were often open to the air. Here is how the EPA changed the way you are allowed to get small amounts of gas and why you could be fined for older gas can caps.
Gas Caps Must Stop Fumes From Escaping
Most of the gas cans you can purchase now have a gas cap that still screws on, but they also have a built-in, leak-proof and vapor-proof mechanism. In order to pour your gas into your lawnmower, chainsaw, or other gas-powered gardening tool, you have to invert the can, insert the nozzle into the tank opening and then pull on the base of the cap which releases the mechanism. The mechanism blocks the flow of the gasoline and blocks vapors as well, so releasing the pull mechanism releases both the vapors and the gas. The concept behind this gas can device is that the EPA hopes to stop vapors from poisoning the air and stop gas from leaking, both of which could lead to fire and explosion with older caps.
Replacing Your Older Gas Can Caps
Several states now require that you not only buy the newer gas cans with newer spouts and caps, but that any older gas can caps you have be replaced with the EPA-approved caps. To be compliant with these regulations, you can either recycle your old cans and caps and buy brand-new ones, or you can continue to use your old, red plastic cans and just purchase the new caps. Gas can spout replacements are sold in many hardware stores and the lawn and garden departments of big box discount chains.
What Happens If You Do Not Comply with the EPA's Gas Can Standards?
You can be reported to the EPA on grounds of violating the Clean Air Act and the stationary fuel regulations. The EPA keeps a list of offenses and offenders, although the government site does not mention how much it fines perpetrators, only that it does hand out fines. (See this document, from the EPA.) Retailers who do not sell the accepted gas can caps also fall under scrutiny and may have their merchant licenses revoked. If you currently do not have the correct caps on your cans, just spend the few dollars necessary to avoid any potential trouble with the government.