With some variations in the specifics, a group of six Mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia have finalized stringent new VOC regulations on architectural and industrial maintenance coatings, with a set of VOC limits that went into effect Jan. 1. The region, one of the most densely populated and developed parts of the country, represents a significant market for the coatings industry.

The states, members of the 12-state Ozone Transport Commission (OTC), are imposing VOC limits as low as 100 g/L. The states are New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Washington D.C., with several counties in northern Virginia also joining the group in enacting a VOC rule. Some of the OTC's six other member states in New England are expected to approve VOC rules, but none were finalized in time to go into effect Jan.1.

National Paint & Coatings Association (NPCA), meanwhile, is pursuing legal challenges to the new VOC rules in Delaware and New York, with lawsuits that contend the rules present unreasonable technological requirements that could adversely affect coatings performance. A court in Delaware has ruled against the association's challenge, but NPCA has appealed to the state's Supreme Court, where a decision is pending. Legal challenges to the new VOC rules also are being pursued by The Sherwin-Williams Co. Key VOC limits that were imposed in the Mid-Atlantic States on Jan. 1 include 100 g/L for flat interior and exterior coatings, 150 g/L for non-flat interior and exterior coatings, 250 g/L for non-flat high-gloss coatings, 340 g/L for industrial maintenance coatings, and 250 g/L for primers and undercoaters. A range of VOC limits will go into effect for nearly 50 other categories of coatings. Among the VOC limits viewed as problematic is a 250 g/L standard for clear, semitransparent and opaque stains, industry representatives said.

More information on the regulations is available from NPCA. The association is recommending that companies obtain copies of regulations enacted by each of the states that have enacted rules, due to differences in the provisions.