CHICAGO - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 has reached an agreement that includes a $70,312 penalty with three related companies - one in Wisconsin and two in Ohio - on alleged violations of federal architectural coating rules. Architectural coatings are paints and similar coverings used on building exteriors, pavements and curbs.

The companies are Rust-Oleum Corp., Prairie, Wis.; The Euclid Chemical Co., Cleveland; and Republic Powdered Metals Inc., Medina, Ohio. All are subsidiaries of a common parent company, RPM International Inc., which is not a party to the settlement, nor is it alleged to have violated the rules.

The agreement resolves EPA allegations that since Jan. 1, 2001, Rust-Oleum and Euclid made coatings that exceeded limits on smog-producing volatile organic compounds without paying correct "exceedance" fees. EPA said Republic did not exceed VOC content limits, but it failed to properly label its containers. All three companies have certified that they are now in full compliance with the architectural coating standards.