WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on July 6 withdrew a portion of a direct final rule intended to give miscellaneous coatings manufacturers new alternatives for complying with emissions limits for hazardous air pollutants. The rule was published May 13 in the Federal Register (70 FR 38,780).

The withdrawal is in response to comments received from NPCA noting that EPA did not allow coatings manufacturers to use limits set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for toxic content.

Hazardous air-pollutant emissions limits set by EPA for surface coatings use the OSHA limits as the cutoff for hazardous air-pollutant content. In addition, the industry uses the OSHA limits to supply product information to customers. To bar the industry from using the OSHA limits to demonstrate compliance with the percentage limit in the miscellaneous coatings rule renders the provisions nearly useless, NPCA told EPA.

The direct final rule sets forth the provisions that state the amount of hazardous substances allowed in a product may be met based on data showing the formulation of a coating (70 Fed. Reg. 25,676). However, EPA restricted the use of the OSHA cutoffs in those formulations. Portions of the rule that NPCA supported were finalized on July 12.

The rule included the following: provisions allowing coatings makers to demonstrate compliance with the emissions limits by measuring total organic compounds rather than having to conduct a performance test for specific pollutants in the emissions stream; clarifying that control requirements are not obligatory for manual cleaning operations; and most importantly, allowing covers and identification on process vessels to be opened for material additions and sampling without the need for additional control requirements. For additional information, contact NPCA's Alison Keane at akeane@paint.org.