Regulatory Issues

Written on: April 1, 2024 by Doug Raymond

In March, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) in California held its second Work Group meeting on Rule 1151 Motor Vehicle & Mobile Equipment Non-Assembly Line Coating Operations, commonly called the Auto Refinish Rule, to discuss amendments. The Rule is primarily being amended to prohibit the use of two compounds: Para-Chlorobenzotrifluoride (PCBTF or Oxsol) and Tert-Butyl Acetate (TBAC). These two compounds have a volatile organic compound (VOC)-exempt status with SCAQMD; PCBTF is fully VOC-exempt while TBAC is partially exempt in the district. The chemicals are being prohibited due to toxicity concerns. SCAQMD’s sister agency, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), has listed these chemicals as Toxic Air Contaminants in the State of California. As an “Air Toxic,” the chemicals have been targeted by the SCAQMD Executive Board to be prohibited from use, even if it means resulting higher VOC emissions.

This is huge, as SCAQMD is willing to possibly raise VOC limits and allow for higher VOC emissions. Staff has released a survey for manufacturers to fill out on how much and where PCBTF and TBAC are are being used in Automotive Coatings.

The survey deadline was March 1, 2024. As we go to press, SCAQMD staff has only received three returned surveys from Industry. However, more submissions are expected.

Staff would like to provide a path for manufacturers to quickly replace these chemicals in Automotive Coatings. It has suggested that it may be willing to allow the temporary use of products that are formulated to comply with National and/or European standards in the SCAQMD. Again, this is another important action by staff. By allowing the use of these other standards, Industry may be able to more quickly transition away from TBAC and PCBTF in Automotive Coatings.

Staff will continue to review the survey data and work with Industry to determine the best way forward. SCAQMD plans to complete this rule in Q4 2024, so time is short.
In addition to Rule 1151, a few other rules in the district are being reviewed for PCBTF and TBAC:

• Rule 1401 (Air Permitting) is in the works;
• Rule 1171 (Degreasing) will likely prohibit these compounds; and
• Rule 1113 (Architectural Coatings) will likely start soon.

This is an important issue for any company that uses PCBTF or TBAC in products. As well, we need to be concerned with how SCAQMD activity will affect other jurisdictions. Will CARB likely look at products containing PCBTF? Remember, TBAC has never been exempted as a VOC by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), so should be of lesser concern for CARB. Stay tuned more to come.

There is still no news on the release of the CARB Consumer Products VOC survey. Industry has been waiting for months for this survey to be released, as it will trigger the next round of CARB Rule development. Staff has stated the survey will be released in the Spring of 2024, which, I believe, is technically now. We are hoping to see the survey soon.

Other State Activity
The good news is that, so far, there is no news regarding new Consumer Products rulemaking from either Clark County, NV, or the States of Oregon and New Jersey. SPRAY