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1 August 2011

VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) and Paint

So what are VOCs and why are we moving to lower VOC formulations?

There are a number of definitions around but the one I’ve quoted below is from Environmental Choice, the New Zealand government endorsed accreditation scheme.

“Volatile organic compound” (VOC) means any organic compound which has a vapour pressure more than 0.1mm Hg at 25oC. Organic compounds with a boiling point greater than 250o C, measured at a standard pressure of 101.3kPa, will not be considered to be a VOC. In other words, petrochemical based products that are volatile, and are emitted from paint films upon drying, causing odours and environmental affects.

VOCs are linked with causing a number of health problems  symptoms of which include: headache, nausea, fatigue, and dizziness. A study performed by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1987 concluded that levels of VOC were up to 10 times higher indoors compared to outdoors, even in locations that had significant outdoor air pollution sources, such as a petrochemical plant.

VOCs have also been linked with Sick Building Syndrome (SBS), a term used to describe a situation where occupants of building experience acute adverse health effects that appear to be linked with the time spent in a building.

Solvent-based paints have much higher levels of VOC than water-based paints (VOC levels of 400-600g/L compared to less than 80g/L). 95% of paint sales are now water-based which is a significant move to reduce VOCs. Now the industry is moving water-based paint formulations to even lower levels of VOC to further reduce exposures and environmental effects.

Some formulators believed that performance compromises might be expected in low VOC paints but with the use of patented in-house Dulux technologies we have formulated and released Dulux Wash & Wear low VOC. This product combines the fantastic washability of the previous formulation with all sheens and bases containing a maximum of 5 g/L VOC. In addition to this all Dulux tinters are low VOC so any colour chosen from the Dulux Colours of New Zealand range or any colour range will have a VOC of less than 5g/L, well under all Green Star and Environmental Choice limits.

View more information on Dulux, including contact details.
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