WASHINGTON - A recently enacted VOC rule on architectural and industrial maintenance (AIM) coatings in Delaware will "effectively ban" numerous coatings products manufactured for sale in the state, the National Paint & Coatings Association says.

The association and representatives of coatings-manufacturing companies voiced opposition to the regulation at a recent hearing conducted by the state's Environmental Appeals Board. In its current form, the rule will require sharply lower VOC content in a number of architectural coatings, beginning Jan. 1, 2005.

The rule is based on a proposal issued in 2000 by the Ozone Transport Commission (OTC), a group of 13 northeastern states. The other commission member states are expected to follow Delaware's lead in enacting rules based on the OTC plan, and the outcome of the NPCA's appeal is certain to influence other OTC states' plans regarding adoption of an AIM VOC rule, the association said. The administrative appeal was filed in March of 2002.

AIM VOC rule proposals are moving closer to being issued in New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland, said Robert Nelson, NPCA senior director, Environmental Affairs.

The OTC proposal is modeled largely on a suggested control measure (SCM) issued by the California Air Resources Board for adoption by local air-quality districts in that state. The California and OTC proposals would effectively force the elimination of many existing products based on VOC content, the NPCA says.

At the Appeals Board hearing, industry representatives urged consideration of an alternative proposal developed by the NPCA. In addition to higher VOC limits for several key product categories, the NPCA proposal calls for the adoption of a VOC-averaging provision that would provide greater compliance flexibility. Higher VOC limits are suggested for interior flat coatings, exterior non-flat and high-gloss coatings; solventborne floor coatings; lacquers; quick-dry coatings; sealers; stains; and varnishes.

The NPCA says its alternative regulation would deliver significant VOC emissions reductions, estimating that the rule would provide approximately 70% of the emissions reductions expected from the existing rule.

In its current form, the state's regulation calls for VOC limits of 100 grams per liter (g/l) for interior and exterior flat coatings; 150 g/l for non-flats and 250g/l for high-gloss coatings; and a range of limits for other product categories. More information on the regulation can be obtained from the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control website located atwww.dnrec.state.de.us/air/aqm_page/regs.htm, under Regulation 41, "Limiting Emissions of Volatile Organic Compounds from Consumer and Commercial Products."