WASHINGTON - The EPA's recently published 2004 "Sector Strategies Performance Report" recognizes significant environmental progress made by the paint and coatings industry in the areas of reduced air emissions and environmental-management programs. The report was issued by the EPA's Sector Strategies Program, in which the NPCA participates on behalf of the industry.

The report cites the paint and coatings industry's environmental progress in reducing air emissions, among other improvements, and identifies the NPCA's Coatings Care program as a case study for effective environmental management systems (EMS).

The report, which assembles available environmental performance information on the 12 sectors that participate in the program, says the paint and coatings industry over the past decade has dramatically reduced releases of chemicals monitored by the EPA's Toxic Release Inventory (TRI), with normalized TRI releases by paint and coatings facilities decreasing by 50% between 1993 and 2001.

The report also says VOCs and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) resulting from the production and use of paint and coatings "have decreased steadily in recent years." The EPA estimates that the normalized quantity of VOC emissions resulting from the manufacture of paint and coatings declined by 12% between 1996 and 2001. The normalized quantity of HAP releases, as reported in the TRI, declined by 56% between 1993 and 2001.

The EPA cites environmental regulations, changing consumer preferences and voluntary industry efforts as all contributing to the decreases, which are considered likely to continue. The report says that as a result of these factors, water-based paint has increased from approximately 35% to more than 80% of architectural-coatings sales over the past few decades. In addition, the report says manufacturers of industrial and special-purpose coatings have introduced a wide variety of environmentally acceptable coatings products, and improvements have been made in the way paint and coating products are manufactured, handled and applied.

The 2004 Sector Strategies Performance Report and other information on the EPA's Sector Strategies Program are available at www.epa.gov/sectors.