Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

VOCs are photoreactive chemical precursors which, when exposed to UV light and other air pollutants, form ground-level ozone;

  • Ozone concentrations in cities are increasing – major 'smog' problems
  • Worsening problem in cities of developing countries (China, Korea, etc)
  • Developed countries looking for further improvements in air quality (Europe, USA)
  • VOC legislation is getting tougher and is spreading geographically

Volatile Organic Hazardous Air Pollutants (VOHAPs)

In the US, the 1990 Clean Air Act directed government to introduce rules which reduce emissions of certain air toxics from industry. These air toxics are known to cause harm to humans and the environment and are called HAPs or Hazardous Air Pollutants. Volatile Organic HAPs, or VOHAPs, is the subsection which is of relevance to the paint manufacturer.

VOC Legislation US (Federal)

  • VOC regulations affecting yacht painting – the Clean Air Act (1990) issued standards for sources of air pollution, including VOCs and VOHAPs
  • Federal regulations covering VOHAPs were introduced in 1996 for marine paints applied at ship building and repair facilities using > 10 T of a single VOHAP or 25 T of a mixture of VOHAPs. (‘Categories and levels’ approach)
  • Pleasure Craft however are currently specifically exempted

VOC Legislation US (State)

  • California state VOC control regulations have also been introduced
  • These have been shaped by Federal policy, although are driven in practice by the South Coast district of California, which sets the most restrictive VOC rules in the world
  • The South Coast of California has set pleasure craft specific coating categories with corresponding maximum allowable VOC levels
  • Other States are beginning to introduce rules in a similar manner to California

What can we do for our customers globally?

We set VOC targets during product design stages to minimise solvent content on all new or improved formulations, whilst still recognising our customers’ needs for effective products that perform and meet aesthetic expectations

We support customer solvent management planning;

  • By delivering and supporting a product mix that provides the flexibility to offset higher solvent products against products where aesthetics are not critical to the finished scheme
  • By providing information and advice on how to reduce solvent content in paint systems; setting ‘best practice’ recommendations
  • By developing and publishing a simple VOC calculator (or solvent management tool), to aid with the monitoring and reporting of VOC usage (This tool is now available on our websites)