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Paint and coatings industry plays role in global pandemic

by Michael H. McGarry
May 16, 2020 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 98, Issue 19


This is a guest editorial by Michael H. ­McGarry, chairman and CEO of PPG Industries. He also serves as chairman of the American Coatings Association Board of Directors, and is on the board of directors of United States Steel Corporation.

Traditionally, paint and coatings products have played a vital role in protecting consumers’ assets. Whether it is a home, automobile, airplane, or electronic device, paints and coatings protect the products many use every day from corrosion, scratches, wear and tear, and stains.

In the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the word protect is taking on even greater significance. As we navigate these unprecedented times together, we are all focused on protecting the health and well-being of our families, colleagues, and friends.

Health-care workers, frontline responders, and scientists in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries are working tirelessly to fight this devastating pandemic and develop life-saving treatments and vaccines. Now more than ever, they need our support. And there are many other essential industries that also provide important products and services people count on.

The word protect is taking on even greater significance.

The coatings industry continues to support frontline workers who are putting their own safety and health at risk every day. The coatings industry is making sure that it manufactures and applies essential coatings—such as antibacterial-protected powder designed to inhibit the growth of bacteria—on surfaces and on medical devices and equipment, such as ventilators and vital sign monitors. Coatings enable the protective performance of devices and equipment, ensuring that they work as intended and, ultimately, protect health-care workers and their patients. Coatings also play a role in protecting temporary hospital installations and drive-through coronavirus testing facilities.

The coatings industry continues to support families staying at home. Families also benefit from coatings, such as those used on food and beverage packaging to ensure essential products like canned fruits and vegetables and bottled and canned beverages are safe and protected. The trucks, ships, or planes that deliver these goods to your local grocery store also count on protective coatings, which help ensure the safety of drivers, crews, and pilots.

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The coatings industry is not only serving customers in essential industries, but is also using new and existing infrastructure to produce, distribute, and donate supplies that are in demand. PPG, for example, donated 80,000 much-needed N95 respirators and surgical masks to health-care facilities across cities in the US. More than 290 gallons of antibacterial latex coatings were also donated to the Shanghai Tong Ren Hospital to protect health-care workers and patients.

Many companies in the coatings industry are supporting efforts to produce critical supplies of hand sanitizer. In times of crisis, we know it is our duty to deploy our resources wherever possible.

It is during times of uncertainty and trouble that leaders must rise to the occasion and be a part of the solution. I’ve been a part of the coatings industry my entire career, and I can say with certainty that I’ve never been more proud of this industry and all its hardworking employees for stepping up to help our neighbors, communities, and frontline workers during this challenging time.

Like many, I am hopeful that sooner rather than later, the worst will be behind us and we can begin to focus on a brighter future.

Views expressed on this page are those of the author and not necessarily those of ACS or C&EN.


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