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CA Plans New Squeeze on VOC Limits

Friday, December 14, 2012

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Even lower VOC emissions limits on architectural and industrial maintenance coatings may be headed for California, to the dismay of coating manufacturers.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District has approved its 2012 Air Quality Management Plan, which includes binding VOC emissions reductions for architectural coatings.

SCAQMD will not be amending the actual regulations for a few years, but change is clearly brewing.

The American Coatings Association (ACA), which represents coating makers, announced the plan to its members in a recent article on its website. ACA noted that the 2012 plan committed to a VOC reduction of two tons per day for architectural coatings—a limit that had been four tons a day, until ACA got involved.

Control Measures

The plan includes three proposed control measures:

  • Reducing the volatile organic compound (VOC) content in flat, nonflat, and primers, sealers and undercoaters from 50 grams per liter to 25 grams per liter;
  • Evaluating potential changes or the elimination of the small container exemption; and
  • Increasing the transfer efficiency of paint spray guns.

SCAQMD's Governing Board approved the measures Dec. 7. They outline strategies for meeting the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Fine Particles (PM2.5) and eight-hour ozone in the Los Angeles Air Basin.

Roof coating spraying

The South Coast Air Quality Management District's 2012 plan proposes lower VOC content on a variety of paints and coatings and aims to improve the transfer efficiency of paint spray guns.

The California Resources Board will consider the 2012 AQMP for inclusion into the California State Implementation Plan in January 2013 as the next step in the process.

Unfair Targeting?

ACA has been involved in the development of the plan from the outset. At hearings, the group urged the governing body to "remove the proposed VOC reduction control measures (CTS-01, CTS-02, CTS-03, and CTS-04) from the plan."

Coating makers "stressed the significant strides the paint and coatings industry has made in reducing its products’ VOC emissions in the past, noting that the district should focus on other source categories for further emissions reductions instead of unfairly targeting the coatings industry," ACA told its members.

Los Angeles smog

SCAQMD's plan outlines strategies to help the Los Angeles Basin meet National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Coating makers said they were unfairly targeted.

In addition to persuading SCAQMD to halve the VOC reduction commitments for architectural and industrial maintenance coatings, ACA said it had worked with district staff to consider a range of options for amending the small container exemption in the future, instead of the outright elimination of this critical compliance option for coatings manufacturers.

The district has added language to the plan to allow for flexibility in the future and has assured ACA that any specific numeric goals or targets may be adjusted during the course of future rulemakings based on technical and economic concerns.

The SCAQMD sets air-quality regulations on stationary (non-vehicular) sources in Los Angeles and adjacent areas, and has set the bar high in enacting the nation’s toughest rules on VOC content in paint and coatings. The district’s Rule 1113 imposes stringent VOC limits on a wide range of architectural and industrial maintenance coatings.


Tagged categories: Air quality; Health and safety; Regulations; SCAQMD; VOC emissions

Comment from Burt Olhiser, (12/14/2012, 9:53 AM)

For those who may not know the SCAQMD is one of 35 air quality management districts in Californi. It is one the smaller districts and the only one advocating for such draconian rules. The other districts are fine with the VOC limit's in paint as they currently sit. If this is something that interests you go to this website and you can see the various rules that each of the 35 districts have adopted. It has frankly become something of an irritant that the SCQAMD gets so much ink. Although we Californians do understand it, as they're air is horrible but that has everything to do with thier location in the desert and the LA basin and little to do with paint. they could stop all painting tomorrow and still not come close to meeting EPA standards for clean air in fact it would not put a dent in their problem. It's quite sad really.

Comment from Tatsuya Nakagawa, (12/14/2012, 10:51 AM)

From the Castagra team "Great job SCAQMD!"

Comment from Tim Race, (12/17/2012, 8:43 AM)

As per my post to same subject in D+D.....At what level of VOC do regulations become self-defeating? If more frequent recoating is necessary because of poor coating performance, then life-cycle and therefore total VOC emissions may increase.

Comment from Mark Schilling, (12/17/2012, 10:10 AM)

As per my post to the same subject in D&D, Tim Race has it right. If your only metric is VOC per gallon of paint you are missing the big picture. If the new "forced technology" paints don't perform as well and you have to paint more often, it can quickly become a net loser (except for painters and inspectors and consultants who will get busy - facility owners foot the bill). The same can be said for the auto industry and the emphasis on mpg. Oh sure, I can get great gas millage in my little pud car but I would have to make 4 or 5 trips to Home Depot instead of just one trip in my SUV. Arbitrary forced mpg requirements "fix" nothing. If my vehicle doesn't do what I need it to do I have a problem. It's a waste of time and money. Sometimes the do-gooders pick metrics that don't really make good sense in the big scheme of things. The do-gooders claim the high ground and they seek to control the narrative. It really should come as no surprise that they often get things very much wrong.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (12/18/2012, 8:31 AM)

The whole "exempt/non-exempt" VOC concept is so outdated - the reactivity of different solvents varies hugely*. Using a gallon of paint with a pint of xylene in it, plus three pints of (non-VOC) exempt solvents will create more ozone than using a gallon of paint with 4 pints of MEK. However, the first one will be considered much "better" under the usual exempt/non-exempt regulations. Crazy. *Yes, there's some debate of how to measure the reactivity. I'm using the MIR scale here for this example. You can pick other scales and the ratios will vary - but xylene is still much more ozone-forming than MEK.

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