Less and Less

More change is in the works. As of July 1, South Coast regulations call for non-flat coatings to drop from a maximum of 150 to 50 grams of VOCs per liter and for primers and sealers to go from 200 to 100 grams.

"Major research and development work had to be done," says Spillane. "There's a snowball effect. The OTC already is talking about going to [the new] South Coast regs."

With both coasts leading the way, the Great Lakes area is following suit. Chicago battles ozone-based pollution, too, and the Lake Michigan Air Directors Consortium is working on regulating VOCs.

Manufacturers see regulation as nearly inevitable. "More states will adopt limits on VOCs for paint and cleaning products," says Steve Revnew, director of marketing for architectural products at Sherwin-Williams. "We anticipate the South Coast of California will continue to take the lead in stringent regulation."

With tighter regulations proliferating, ICI probably will sell its low-VOC products everywhere, rather than offering different formulations in different areas. In addition, Maurer notes, indoor air quality standards may be added to the mix. "How long that will take remains to be seen."