Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)

What are they?

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) are emitted by a selection of different gases and solids such as paints and lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, office equipment such as copiers and printers, correction fluids and carbonless copy paper, graphics and craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers, and photographic solutions.

The VOCs, or solvents, are one of the key ingredients in coatings that contribute to ozone formation. VOCs are emitted from coatings from the containers themselves, as the material is applied and as the material dries on the surface. The VOC emissions from the materials can then mix in the air with other ground level pollutants (nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrocarbons…) and the energy from the sun acts upon this mixture to form the brown gunk in the air known as photochemical smog. 

Why it is Important to Limit VOCs

The chart below shows the projected major sources of VOC emissions in 2023.  You can see that the graph is dominated by on-road sources. As controls go into effect, it is projected that area sources will dominate the VOC emissions. An area source is any non-permitted stationary source of emission. Area sources include small combustion equipment, boilers, heaters, solvents, adhesives, consumer products, and paint and coatings operations.

Major Sources of VOC Emissions 2023
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