Paints Regulation in the US and GCC

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Courtesy of 3E Company

Keeping track of paints and coatings regulations in the US and the Middle East can prove to be a complex task

The global paints and coatings industry generates upwards of $100bn in annual revenue by some estimates. In terms of production, the US is the global leader, with five of the world’s top ten manufacturers based there, according to coatingsworld.com: PPG Industries, Sherwin-Williams, DuPont, RPM International, and Valspar. By contrast, the paints and coatings industry in the Middle Eastern countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – is modest, comprising a considerably smaller share of global demand. Yet, growth in the sector is seen by some as having great potential in the coming years, given the UAE’s transformation into a regional centre of business, and growing populations across the Middle East.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the difference in the degree of complexity between regulations in the US and the GCC is also significant. While the US legal framework relevant to paints and coatings consists of multiple acts, regulations, rules and associated standards that must be observed concurrently in order to remain compliant, the GCC lacks a robust regulatory scheme, limited primarily to a number of standards and technical regulations.

US framework: TSCA inventory

As a first step, manufacturers and importers of precursors, intermediates or chemical substances contained in a paint or coating product are required to check with the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) inventory to ensure they are permitted. Substances in the inventory are considered to be “existing” chemicals, while those not present are “new” chemicals.

Section 5 of TSCA mandates anyone who plans to manufacture or import a new chemical substance for a non-exempt commercial purpose to provide the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with prior notice. This pre-manufacture notice, or PMN, must be submitted at least 90 days prior to the manufacture or import of the chemical. Manufacturers and importers must also comply with other TSCA regulations that may impose certain reporting and testing requirements and restrictions, such as Significant New Use Rules (Snurs). The EPA is the responsible agency for enforcing TSCA regulations.

Purpose defines regulation

For US federal requirements, compliance depends largely on the product’s intended purpose and how it is marketed. In the case of industrial paints and coatings which are sold and used for workplaces, the labelling and safety data sheet (SDS) requirements under the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) apply. The standard, which is overseen by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (Osha), is designed to protect the safety of employees in workplace settings. With the US adoption in March 2012 of the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of chemicals classification and labelling, paints and coatings in occupational use became subject to GHS-formatted rules.

For chemical products sold and used as consumer products or consumer commodities, certain labelling information is required under the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA), the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA), and the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA). For paints and coatings, labelling rules discussed in Title 16, Part 1500.14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and 16 CFR 1500.129, which are additional requirements for consumer products containing certain hazardous substances, may apply. Title 16 CFR 1500.3 provides the definitions of “toxic”, “highly toxic”, “corrosive”, “irritant”, “strong sensitiser” and “extremely flammable, flammable and combustible.” The definitions differ from those provided under the HCS, which relate to industrial purpose paints and coatings.

Product labelling information that must be provided under FHSA and CPSA is defined in 16 CFR 1500. The FPLA also governs general consumer product labelling requirements, such as identity of the manufacturer, packer or distributor, and net quantity of contents (in terms of weight or volume). Some of the requirements in 16 CFR 1500.14 are productspecific; for example, methanol and mixtures containing 4% or more by weight of methanol, and art materials, where the regulation stipulates the use of appropriate signal words and precautionary statements.

The FHSA also requires that all safety information about hazardous consumer products be located prominently on the label, be in conspicuous and legible type, and contrast by size, typography, layout or colour with the other printed information. The regulation under 16 CFR 1500.121 contains guidelines for ensuring the required information appears prominently and conspicuously on the label of hazardous products. For example, the signal word and hazard statement must appear on the surface of the product’s container with the label designed to appear prominently to shoppers. The regulation also covers a variety of other topics, such as type, size and style, colour contrast, and special rules for tubes, unpackaged hazardous products, and accompanying literature.

Clean Air Act compliance critical

Compliance under the Clean Air Act (CAA) is critical for paints and coatings, especially when they contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Emissions of VOCs are regulated by the EPA in order to prevent ozone formation as a result of reaction between sources of oxygen molecules and the sunlight. The EPA, however, exempts certain chemical substances listed in 40 CFR 51.100(s) from the definition of VOCs due to their negligible photochemical reactivity. The national VOC emission standards for consumer and commercial products in 40 CFR 59 is another important regulation under CAA, which discusses regulated entity, container labelling, reporting requirements, testing methods, VOC content limits, and other standards for different types of coatings. Subpart B of 40 CFR 59 provides VOC standards for automobile refinish coatings; subpart C covers consumer products; subpart D, architectural coatings; subpart E, aerosol coatings; and subpart F, portable fuel containers.

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