EHS Administration, Regulatory Developments

EPA Amends Aerosol Coatings Emissions Standards

In the recently published Spring 2022 Unified Agenda, the EPA indicated a final rule amending National Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Emission Standards for Aerosol Coatings will be issued no later than December 30, 2022.

“EPA has defined VOCs as any substance which participates in atmospheric photochemical reactions,” explains a JD Supra article by Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, P.L.L.C. “In other words, any substance that contributes to the formation of smog. They can be emitted from consumer products and a number of manufacturing processes.”

“Aerosol coatings” refers to aerosol spray paints. They are regulated under Section 183(e) of the Clean Air Act (CAA), which requires the EPA to regulate certain VOC-containing consumer and commercial products in areas that do not meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone. 

The aerosol coatings rule, which was last updated in 2008, establishes nationwide VOC reactivity-based emissions standards to address VOC emissions from the aerosol spray paints category.

The proposed amendments to the rule:

  • Update coating category product-weighted reactivity limits for aerosol coatings categories.
  • Add new compounds and reactivity factors (RFs).
  • Update existing reactivity values.
  • Revise the default RF.
  • Amend the thresholds for regulated compounds.
  • Add electronic reporting provisions.

These changes are in response to industry trade associations’ requests for the EPA to revise the national VOC standards so they are consistent with state standards such as California’s.

Comments received when the rule was proposed indicated support from industry trade associations such as the American Coatings Association (ACA), Household & Commercial Products Association (HCPA), and National Aerosol Association (NAA) and manufacturer Seymore of Sycamore.

In comments submitted when the amendments were proposed, the ACA requested “a compliance date of two years after publication in the Federal Register for the updated coatings category limits” to “ensure that industry has sufficient time to reformulate their products and adapt their distribution methods to effectively and efficiently implement the amended rule’s requirements.”

Additional comments from the ACA seek to have the revised rule:

  • Further align with California’s default value of 11.97 g O3/g VOC.
  • Not include a sell-through provision for any products manufactured before the new reactivity limits become effective.
  • Update definitions, and add several new definitions.
  • Allow regulated entities to petition the EPA to change the reactivity value of existing compounds, and provide the ability to add new compounds.
  • Eliminate triennial reporting requirements for aerosol coatings manufacturers, or, alternatively, amend the reporting requirement to every 5 or 10 years.
  • Establish a clear process with a set timeline for review and approval of petitions to add new compounds to Tables 2A, 2B, and 2C.
  • Clarify the requirements for providing notification to the EPA of new aerosol coating formulations.
  • Remove the requirement to report the trade name and solvent mixture manufacturer for hydrocarbon solvents.
  • Allow industry to start converting labels before the new compliance deadline.

Both the HCPA and the NAA support the ACA’s suggested revisions to the proposed rule.

According to the EPA, these amendments are “not anticipated to have disproportionately high or adverse human health or environmental effects on minority populations, low-income populations and/or indigenous peoples, and there are no anticipated adverse environmental or economic impacts from compliance with the final rule.”