On New Year's Day, painters in many northeastern states woke up with more than a hangover. New regulations that significantly reduce the allowable content of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in most paints and stains took effect on January 1 in the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware, as well as in the District of Columbia and 10 counties in Northern Virginia. In laymen's terms, what this means is that many popular oil-based coatings will effectively disappear from those regions.

The new laws stem from a collective effort known as the Ozone Transport Commission (OTC) that aims to reduce air pollution in the heavily congested Northeast Corridor. The OTC includes a total of 13 northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states, all of which are expected to adopt the same VOC restrictions within a year or two.

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