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OTC to Cut Paint Thinner, Solvent VOCs

Thursday, March 24, 2011

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A dozen Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states will reduce Volatile Organic Compound limits in paint thinners and cleaning solvents, if the Ozone Transport Commission proceeds with its plan to adopt a rule patterned after one already in use in California.

ozone hole over Antarctica

Photos: NASA

The ozone hole is the region over Antarctica
with total ozone of 220 Dobson Units or lower.
This map shows the ozone hole on Oct. 4, 2004.
NASA’s Ozone Monitoring Instrument tracks the
hole in real time.

At a meeting March 16 in Baltimore, the OTC announced that it was planning to adopt the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) model rulemaking for Paint Thinner and Multipurpose Solvent later this year. The measure would take effect Jan. 1, 2014.

The OTC, created under the Clean Air Act, is responsible for advising the Environmental Protection Agency on transport issues and for developing and implementing regional solutions to the ground-level ozone problem in the 12-state region from Maine to Virginia.

The OTC represents Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia.

Comments Sought

The OTC has drafted a white paper that provides background information on the rule. Comments on the draft will be accepted through March 31.

The American Coatings Association, which represents paint and coatings manufacturers, says it is drafting comments on the rule but has released no details. The OTC says in its report that “a quick discussion with one of the largest solvent manufacturers notes that the timeline proposed in the CARB regulation was acceptable.”

Goal: Ozone Reduction

The purpose of the regulation would be to reduce VOC emissions from the use, storage and disposal of paint thinner and multipurpose solvent materials, OTC says.
“Paint thinners and multipurpose solvents are a significant source of VOC emissions,” according to the white paper draft.

polar stratospheric clouds

The frozen crystals that make up polar stratospheric
clouds provide a surface for the unusual reactions
caused by ozone in the Antarctic.

“The inclusion of paint thinners and multipurpose solvents in the Consumer Products rule would provide needed reductions in VOC emissions in the OTC region in order to meet ozone national air quality standards. The OTC recommendation would help promote consistency in regulations throughout the region.”

Targeted Products

The rule would target “products that are commonly used in the thinning of coating materials, cleaning of coating application equipment, and other solvent cleaning operations,” according to OTC.  The goal is to “impact the products at their manufacture.”

“Rule penetration (RP) would be 100 percent, because the rule affects all solvents within the category in the region,” according to OTC. “Because this rule affects solvents at the point of manufacture, a 100 percent Rule Effectiveness (RE) is assumed – only compliant solvents would be allowed to be sold in the region.”

Including these products in the Consumer Products model rule would “maximize VOC reductions in the OTC region in the shortest time frame possible, instead of undertaking an entirely new rulemaking for the category,” the commission said. 
California’s Rule

CARB adopted a Paint Thinner and Multipurpose Solvent rule on Sept. 24, 2009, limiting VOC levels in paint thinners and multipurpose solvents sold in California. This includes paint thinning and paint application equipment cleaning solvents that are sold at hardware stores, home improvement centers, and paint supply stores. The rule set a 30% VOC by weight limit for paint thinners effective Dec. 31, 2010, and a 3% VOC by weight effective Dec. 31, 2013, OTC notes.

In addition, Californa’s South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) has proposed reducing the VOC content of paint thinners and multipurpose solvents to 300 g/l and then 25 g/l.  “A regulation [Rule 1143] was put in place, declared by a California court to be unlawful, has been rescinded and readopted, and is now being litigated again,” OTC notes.

OTC notes that the CARB rule, unlike the SCAQMD measure, addresses flashpoint and flammability issues of the products, including acetone. Acetone has become the cheapest alternative solvent, although it is extremely flammable with a very low flash point. It auto-ignites at a temperature of 465 °C (869 °F) and may explode or cause a flash fire even below room temperature, the Commission reports. 

Reductions and Timetable

Reduction of the VOC content to 3 percent VOC could potentially provide a reduction of 42 tons per day for the OTC, the commission estimates. 

Each OTC state would need to adopt provisions consistent with the model rule.


Tagged categories: Regulations; Solvents; VOC content; VOC emissions

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (3/28/2011, 8:55 AM)

I'm not sure why the article talks about flash point, then only gives the auto-ignition point. Auto-ignition is the temperature your material will spontaneously ignite itself without an outside flame or spark. If the temperature of your liquid paint or thinner has reached 465 °C (869 °F) - you most likely have other serious problems going on, such as your plant already being on fire. The flash point is more immediately important, as it is the lowest temperature where an ignition source (such as a spark) can ignite the acetone vapors. The acetone flash point is about -17 °C (1°F.) Painting and paint storage is almost universally above this temperature, making the flash ignition of acetone a real concern.

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