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South Coast Air District OKs Plan for VOC Limits on Coatings Colorants

Monday, June 6, 2011

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The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) last week enacted the nation’s first VOC regulation on colorants for architectural and industrial maintenance coatings.

In approving a number of amendments to the district’s Rule 1113 on architectural and industrial maintenance coatings, the district also enacted lower VOC content limits on a number of specialty coatings. Also approved was the elimination of the rule’s VOC “averaging” provision, which gives coatings manufacturing companies a flexibility option in meeting the rule’s stringent VOC-content provisions. The averaging provision will be eliminated on Jan. 1, 2015.

The Rule 1113 changes approved by the district, however, do not include lower VOC limits on primers, sealers and undercoaters, which had been part of the rule amendments originally proposed by the district’s staff but strongly opposed by coatings-industry representatives. The VOC content limit for those products remains at 100 grams per liter.

The SCAQMD’s regulations on VOCs in architectural and industrial maintenance coatings are aimed at helping to improve air quality in the smog-plagued Los Angeles air basin.

Robert Wendoll, environmental affairs director for The Dunn-Edwards Corp., said industry representatives had campaigned aggressively against the district’s initial proposal to enact lower VOC limits on the “primers, sealers and undercoaters” category due to the wide range of products—and performance needs—in the category. He noted that VOC limits as low as 50 g/L may be feasible for formulation of products such as drywall primers/sealers, but would not allow formulation of effective higher-performance products required for other substrates, such as metal, plastic, glass, and masonry.

The SCAQMD has long imposed the nation’s toughest VOC rules on field-applied paints and coatings. The rules are designed to help reduce air-pollution levels in the smog-plagued Los Angeles air basin.

VOC Limits on Colorants Break New Ground

The SCAQMD is breaking new ground with the VOC limits on colorants, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2014. The limits are 50 grams per liter for architectural coatings (excluding industrial maintenance coatings), 50 g/L for water-borne industrial maintenance coatings, and 600 g/L for solvent-borne industrial maintenance coatings.

The addition of VOC-containing colorants, or “tints” at the point of sale—for example, at stores that sell paints and coatings—increases the VOC content of coatings as applied. Thus, coatings products marketed as low- or even zero-VOC can actually contain significant amounts of VOCs after their color is adjusted with VOC-containing colorants.

The amount of VOC content after tinting can vary, depending in part on the color; light or pastel colors require lower levels of colorant to achieve the target color, while greater amounts are needed for medium, deep or accent colors.

Colorants containing no VOCs have been developed by a number of companies, but these products have not become widely used or available in the marketplace. This situation—and technical issues involved in the production and use of zero-VOC colorants—was the subject of a recent article in Durability + Design, written by coatings expert V.C. “Bud” Jenkins. (See Tricky Terrain—The Brave New World of Zero-VOC Colorants.)

New Limits on Several Product Types

The amendments to Rule 1113 also include lower VOC limits on several categories of specialty coatings. Those categories and VOC limits are as follows.

  • Concrete surface retarders: 50 g/L, effective Jan. 2, 2014 (current limit, 250 g/L)
  • Driveway sealers: 50 g/L, effective Jan. 1, 2012 (current limit, 100 g/L)
  • Faux-finishing coatings
    • Clear topcoat: 200 g/L, effective Jan. 1, 2012, and 100 g/L, effective Jan. 1, 2014 (current limit, 350 g/L)
    • Trowel-applied coatings: 150 g/L, effective Jan. 1, 2012, and 50 g/L, effective Jan. 1, 2014 (current limit, 350 g/L)
  • Fire-proofing coatings: 150 g/L, effective Jan. 1, 2014 (current limit, 350 g/L)
  • Form-release compound: 100 g/L, effective Jan. 1, 2014 (current limit, 300 g/L)
  • Graphic arts (sign) coatings: 150 g/L, effective Jan. 1, 2014 (current limit, 50000 g/L)
  • Mastic coatings: 100 g/L, effective Jan. 1, 2014 (current limit, 300 g/L)
  • Metallic-pigmented coatings: 150 g/L, effective Jan. 1, 2014 (current limit, 500 g/L)
  • Sacrificial anti-graffiti coatings: 50 g/L, effective Jan. 1, 2012 (current limit, 100 g/L)

The amended Rule 1113 and related documents available at Rule 1113, Architectural Coatings.


Tagged categories: Air quality; Regulations; VOC emissions

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