WASHINGTON — At least three East Coast states — Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania — have begun the process of adopting a regional VOC regulation on architectural and industrial-maintenance (AIM) coatings as proposed by the Ozone Transport Commission (OTC). The commission, whose members include 12 Mid-Atlantic and northeastern states and the District of Columbia, recently issued a final “model rule” that proposes the adoption of stringent, “California-type” VOC controls on AIM coatings.

Six states in the region are expected to move quickly to enact regulations based on the model rule, which recommends an effective date of Jan. 1, 2005. Representatives of coatings manufacturers and the National Paint & Coatings Association, meanwhile, are campaigning for consideration of an alternative regulation that would impose less drastic VOC limits.

In addition to Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania, the states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are expected to move quickly to adopt regulations based on the OTC model rule. Those states are under an EPA mandate to reduce gound-level ozone pollution.

The OTC’s model rule proposes VOC limits of 100 grams per liter (g/L) on flat coatings, 150 g/L on non-flat coatings and 250 g/L on non-flat “high-gloss” coatings. The model rule originally proposed a VOC limit of 250 g/L for industrial maintenance coatings, but that was increased to 340 g/L as a concession to the industry, OTC representatives said. Specific limits are proposed for more than 40 other types of coatings.

The regulation is based on a suggested control measure (SCM) issued by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which serves as a guide to that state’s local and regional air-quality agencies.

The CARB proposal and the OTC’s new model rule call for VOC limits that are considerably lower than a national VOC rule enacted in 1999 by the U.S. EPA. The OTC says the lower limits are feasible based on reviews of market data in California and information from manufacturers.

The EPA’s national rule requires VOC limits of 250 g/L for flat coatings, 380 g/L for non-flat coatings and 450 g/L for industrial maintenance coatings. In addition, the national rule lists higher VOC limits for a number of specialized industrial maintenance coatings. The rule, which was developed following extensive discussions with the industry and state air-quality officials, also specifies higher VOC limits for a wide range of specialty products.

The NPCA, in urging state air-quality agencies in the OTC region to consider its less-drastic model rule, says the OTC plan could force the use of inferior products that fail to meet the performance demands of the region. In comments made recently to the Clean Air Council of New Jersey, NPCA Senior Counsel Jim Sell said such regulations could lead to more frequent application of coatings, which could actually cause an increase in VOC emissions. In addition, he said, regulations based on the OTC plan might not allow the use of waterborne low-temperature flat coatings that can currently be applied during times of the year when the formation of ozone pollution is not a concern.

OTC officials, however, say further regulation of VOC emissions from coatings, as well as new controls on a number of other air-pollution sources, are needed to allow the states in the region to reach compliance with federal standards for ground-level ozone pollution.

An in-depth report on the OTC model rule and related developments can be found on the PCI website at www.pcimag.com.