The Powder Coating Institute has partnered with the American Coating Association to highlight updates on legislation and regulatory issues affecting the powder coating industry. The following update is on potential changes to the National Ozone Standard that could create significant opportunities for powder coatings since only small amounts of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are released into the air with powder coating use.
Relatively low levels of ground level ozone can cause health effects particularly to seniors, children, and people with lung diseases. Ground level ozone is created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and sunlight. The major sources of NOx are industrial facilities, electric power plants and motor vehicle exhaust, whereas chemical solvents, coatings, and consumer products are the primary sources of VOCs.
The Clean Air Act (CAA) requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish national air quality standards for ground level ozone. Each state must develop a State Implementation Plan for ground level ozone, which typically includes regulations intended to lower VOC and NOx emissions. The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to review these standards every five years.
- In 1997, the EPA set a ground-level ozone standard of 80 part per billion (ppb).
- In 2008, after review, the ground-level ozone standard was lowered to 75ppb.
- In January of 2010, after another review, the EPA proposed to lower the standard again to a range between 60ppb – 70ppb.
- September 2011, the Obama administration halted the proposed lowered ozone standard due to regulatory burdens and economic conditions.
- Today the Clean Air Act and several lawsuits have put the EPA under a court-ordered deadline to issue a new ozone proposal by December 14th, 2014 and a final regulation by October 1, 2015.
To protect public health, the EPA Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee recommends strengthening the ozone standard to below 70ppb and as low as 60ppb. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) suggests that an ozone standard at the 60ppb level could cost billions of dollars per year and place millions of jobs at risk. With increasing environmental concerns and the impending ozone standard change we could see significant growth in the powder coating industry due to the low level of VOCs that are released into the air with powder coating use.