COATINGS are materials that when applied to a surface will protect, beautify or provide an impediment to outside elements. Coatings include, but are not limited to paints, varnishes, stains, industrial maintenance coatings and can be applied to stationary and/or mobile sources. When applied, the solvents in the coatings evaporate into the atmosphere and contribute to volatile organic compound and airborne toxic emissions. Developing, adopting and enforcing rules and regulations that will control these emissions is primarily the responsibility of the local air districts. The role of the Air Resources Board is to provide suggested control measures that act as a model rules to assist the districts in the regulation and rule development process. Beginning in the mid-1970s, ARB and the districts began developing source specific rules such as those for architectural coatings, aerosol paints and automotive coatings. To date, rules have been developed that cover a multitude of coating operations and categories.
Architectural Coatings are coatings applied to stationary sources and their appurtenances, to portable buildings, to pavements, or to curbs. Appurtenances are accessories to an architectural structure, including, but not limited to: handrailings, cabinets, bathroom and kitchen fixtures, fences, decks, rain gutters and downspouts, window screens, lamp posts, signs, concrete forms, heating and air conditioning equipment large fixed stationary tools, and other mechanical equipment.

Beginning in the mid-1970s, the Air Resources Board (ARB) and the districts began developing source specific rules such as rules for individual coating sources like architectural coatings. In those districts that have not adopted a source specific coating rule like architectural coatings, the national architectural coating rule applies. Over the ensuing years, rules were developed that cover a multitude of coating operations such as aerospace, architectural coatings, metal parts and products, and automotive painting. Most districts now have rules covering one or more of these categories. 

The rules in each district are dynamic and subject to change. The ARB recommends that if you want specific information on a particular rule to contact the district. Ask the district to place your name on their mail list so you will be notified when a rule is amended. Although the ARB promotes and encourages uniformity among rules in each district, due to the unique air pollution problems in each district, rules may be tailored to meet these conditions for each district. Hence, adjacent districts may have different rules. The state of California is subdivided into 58 counties, 14 air basins, and 35 local districts

To ensure compliance with district regulations/rules, businesses who perform coating activities or provide coatings for use in one or more areas of California should contact the local district in each area that a facility is located or the coating will be used. The district(s) can help you identify any requirements that may exist. The regulations/rules that have been adopted in each district apply only to the geographic boundaries of the district.
Automotive Coatings includes the use of paints or coatings that emit toxic air contaminants. Unlike other sources, the possibility of exposure to toxins in automotive coatings is not limited to large industrial facilities. In fact, most automotive coatings are used in facilities that are not located in specially industrial zoned areas within a community, but are usually located in close proximity to residential areas and schools. Automotive coatings are also commonly used by consumers to paint a vehicle or a piece of mobile equipment at home. It became imperative that the toxic emissions from automotive coatings be reduced and/or depending on the compound, eliminated. To accomplish its goal of eliminating and/or reducing toxic emissions in automotive coatings, ARB staff is developing a proposed airborne toxic control measure that would eliminate hexavalent chromium and cadmium from automotive coatings. Hexavalent chromium and cadmium were determined by the Board to be human carcinogens without an identifiable threshold of exposure level below which no significant adverse health effects could be anticipated. ARB is also establishing an automotive refinishing pollution prevention outreach program that will integrate the advancement of new environmental technologies and the promotion of community health.

Top of page/ Return to Architectural Coatings Page


A department of the California Environmental Protection Agency