CoatingsPro Magazine

MAR 2015

CoatingsPro offers an in-depth look at coatings based on case studies, successful business operation, new products, industry news, and the safe and profitable use of coatings and equipment.

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24 MARCH 2015 COATINGSPROMAG.COM VOCs are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) due to their participation in the formation of ground-level ozone, a major component of smog. I n an era of heightened environmental regulation and eco-minded consumers, demand for sustainable paints and coatings has never been higher. It's no longer enough for a coatings product to be efective; it must perform well and ofer a negligible impact on the environment. As "green" gains ground, paint and coatings brands are seeking to reformulate with ingredients that don't contribute to smog, yet they can't compromise on performance. Tis can be a challenge, but it's a challenge that's worthy and necessary of pursuit. For paints and coatings, one of the keys to sustainability lies in the quantity of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, in a product. VOCs are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) due to their participation in the formation of ground-level ozone, a major component of smog. Ground- level ozone can cause adverse efects on the environment and on human health, such as disrupting fragile ecosystems in forests and parks. Repeated exposure to ozone can make people more suscep- tible to respiratory problems and can aggravate pre-existing respiratory diseases, such as asthma. VOCs can also trigger allergies and degrade indoor air quality, which is an increasing concern. For these reasons, the federal govern- ment and many states limit the amount of VOCs in paints and coatings. No-VOC Pressure Is On Te EPA defnes a VOC as "any compound of carbon, excluding carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, carbonic acid, metallic carbides or carbonates, and ammonium carbon- ate, which participates in atmospheric photochemical reactions," with the exception of chemicals that the EPA has determined to have "negligible photo- chemical reactivity." Essentially, any organic compound that has not been exempted by the EPA is considered to be a VOC in the United States. In certain states, VOC regulations can be even more stringent than the EPA's, requiring paint manufacturers to take extra steps for compliance. U.S. federal limits on VOCs in fat household paints, for example, are set at 250 grams per liter (33 oz/gal). In California, the limit is less than half of that — a mere 100 grams per liter (13 oz/gal). But even without tight regulations, it's likely that consumer sway would be convincing enough for manufacturers to produce more sustainable paints. Consider that just a decade ago, the term "VOC" was largely confned to industry professionals. Today, it's a common topic on home décor blogs, and it has made its way into the vocabulary of nearly any sophisticated consumer. Tis combination of regulatory pressure and consumer awareness has set out very clear market demands to formulators: Produce low-VOC or VOC-free products, or risk being passed over for alternatives with an improved environmental profle. The Quest for VOC-Free In the United States, paint formulators and even makers of paint additives must go above and beyond to gain government approval and, ultimately, the consumer's blessing. Regulatory bodies and the paint industry use several methods to measure VOCs in coatings, the most simple and common of which is a boiling point test. Known as "EPA Method 24," this technique involves heating the paint at 110° C (230° F) for one hour and measuring weight loss. A lthough boiling point is not a criterion for classifying a material as a VOC, it is a reasonable indicator of a compound 's tendency to evaporate from a paint system. Tis method only applies to the paint and not its individual compo- nents. Tat combined with the test's precision problems when measuring low VOC paints have led the industry to rely instead on a gas chromatography method, "ASTM D6886." Utilizing retention time to determine volatility, this gas Notes From the Field Notes From the Field By Asghar Peera, Ph.D, Research Scientist for Te Dow Chemical Company, and Vania Buzatto, Global Strateg ic Marketing Director for ANGUS Chemical Company Sustainable Materials: The New Bottom Line in Paint and Coatings

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