SACRAMENTO, CA - Sixteen regional air-quality management districts in California have adopted rules or revised their existing regulations setting VOC limits for architectural and industrial maintenance (AIM) coatings, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has reported.

The regulations are modeled on a suggested control measure (SCM) adopted by CARB in 2000, which recommended the adoption of a series of low VOC limits for architectural coatings. CARB does not directly set regulations affecting VOCs in AIM coatings, but makes recommendations on such rules for consideration by the state's regional air quality management districts.

The CARB report does not include the South Coast Air Quality Management District, which has long imposed the nation's toughest VOC rules on AIM coatings.

CARB also issued updates on several other issues related to the regulation of VOCs in AIM coatings, including the status of a VOC-averaging compliance option; the feasibility of adopting "reactivity-based" VOC limits; and technology assessments for recommended VOC limits that became effective on Jan. 1.

CARB's suggested control measure for VOCs in AIM coatings recommends limits for 42 different categories of coatings, effective Jan. 1, 2003. Among the limits are levels of 100 grams per liter (g/L) for flat coatings, 150 g/L for nonflats, 250 g/L for nonflat/high-gloss coatings, and 200 g/L for primers, sealers and undercoaters. A limit of 250 g/L for industrial maintenance coatings is recommended for Jan. 1, 2004.

In its update on VOC-averaging programs, CARB said several air-quality districts are involved in discussions with the U.S. EPA, which has not granted approval of those programs.

Regarding technology assessments for VOC limits that became effective on Jan. 1, CARB said a survey of the industry has determined that "all of the limits are technically feasible with no significant adverse effects on small business."

In an update on possible consideration of VOC limits based on relative photochemical reactivity of various solvents, CARB said a new, "next generation" environmental chamber designed to more accurately assess differences in VOC reactivity has been assembled under a study being led by Dr. William Carter of the University of California, Riverside. CARB recently approved a $300,000 grant under which Carter will carry out reactivity studies of architectural coatings, with the research to be completed by early 2005. CARB said it will assess the feasibility of developing a reactivity-based suggested control measure after Carter's study is completed.

Photochemical reactivity of solvents and other VOCs contributes to the formation of ground-level ozone pollution, or smog.

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