The Evolution of Low Voc Paints

Anchor Industrial

In the decades leading up to the 1970s, most residential house paints were oil based. Now latex or water based technologies are the standard. In general terms they are easy to use and are less harmful for the environment and our health. However, most industrial and commercial coatings are oil-based products. Some of these formulations still use those same oil based technologies with different levels of volatile organic compound (VOC) ingredients in their formulations.

In the past, some of these paint formulations contained large amounts of toxic solvents and other ingredients, such as:

  • Benzene
  • Formaldehyde
  • Methylene Chloride

The problem with these toxic compounds is that they turn into breathable gases when they are released into the environment as the paint dries and cures. In addition to the negative environmental effects, industrial and commercial paints containing high levels of VOC’s have been found to cause many health issues, such as:

  • Cancer
  • Skin irritation
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Throat, nose, and lung irritation

The toxic chemicals and the negative effects they have upon our air is partially why the U.S. adopted the Clean Air Act (CAA) in 1970. This law regulates the source of air emissions to protect public health and the environment. Additional regulations followed with the US National AIM Rule of 1999.

Paint manufacturers soon responded with the addition of low VOC paints and coatings to their product lines. These formulas attempt to have the same performance characteristics with using ingredients which are less harmful to the environment and human health, and help adhere to regulatory agency compliance.

Read on to learn more about low VOC industrial and commercial paints and their value to both the health of the environment and your organization.

What Are Low VOC Paints and Why Are They Better for the Environment?

Low VOC paints contain less toxic VOC chemicals than regular paint so there will be less of an impact on the Ozone layer. Despite this, there is no Federal ruling on what exactly qualifies as “low VOC.” All paints and coatings have to adhere to the Federal standards but there are differences as you move around the country. Considering how each state or even areas within a state may have its own definition of what is “low VOC”, it is important to understand the limits for each category in each part of the country.

At minimum, the federal column must be adhered to. Depending on where you live or where your business is located,, you may need to follow one of these other columns.

COATING CATEGORY*
Federal
(1999)

VOC (G/L)

OTC
2010
Carb
2007
SCAQMD
(2008)
Denver
2020
Flat
250
50
50
50
50
Non-Flat
380
100
100
50
100
Non-Flat High Gloss
380
150
150
50
150
Industrial Maintenance General
450
250
250
100
250
Industrial Maintenance High Temp
650
420
420
420
420
Primer
350
100
100
100
100
Quick Dry Primer
450
100
100
100
Specialty Primer
350
100
100
100
Quick Dry Enamel
450
150
150
50
Floor
400
100
100
50
100
Rust Preventative
400
250
250
100
250
Dry Fog
400
150
150
50
150

Keep in mind that this only applies to the base of the paint—not to the tint. If you choose a tint that contains high amount of VOC and add it to a low VOC base paint, the resulting product may be higher than the acceptable VOC.

Even though low VOC paints still contain some VOCs, they have far fewer toxic chemicals than the upper limits set forth by the federal government.

To determine if a can of paint is low VOC, you can always check the label or look at the Safety Data Sheet (SDS).

Low VOC vs. Low HAP’s

In addition to regulations concerning the VOC’s emmisions of a company, some others are required to state the amount of Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAP’s) on their annual emission documents. While most of the VOC’s are the contributors to ozone issues and regulations, HAP’s are the main contributors for cancer and other serious health and environmental concerns. In addition to most of the solvents listed as VOC’s, there are an additional 187 HAP’s which contain solvents such as xylene and toluene but also list pigments such as lead, chromium or other heavy metal compounds.

Benefits and Competitive Advantages

There are many reasons why you should use low VOC and low HAP paint or coating in both commercial and industrial applications. These include:

  • Low groundwater pollution
  • Reduced ozone depletion
  • Reduced toxicity
  • Reduced negative health effects upon humans
  • Easier disposal and cleanup
  • Lower fumes
  • Easier maintenance
  • Reduced carbon footprint

Many companies and organizations are now “going green,” which can offer some financial advantages in the long run through potential rebates and other green programs.

There’s also an advantage from a branding and marketing perspective. It shows the general public that your organization cares about the environment, which can positively impact sales and customer retention.

Low VOC and Low HAP’s solutions from Anchor Paint

We hope we’ve provided you with an insight into the evolution of low VOC and low HAP’s products. Despite the small concentrations of toxic compounds, they are far better for the environment and human health than standard paint.

Click below to learn more about the various low VOC and low HAP’s solutions from Anchor Paint.

Low VOC Industrial Enamels

Low VOC Industrial Primers

Chad Renfo Design

Anchor welcomes renown Designer, Chad Renfro as our Color Expert with his inaugural 18 Color Palette, “ORIGINS.”
The ORGINS collection delivers color perfection in every shade. A classic deep blue hints at just-after-dusk clear skies in China Aster. Earthy reds drift just behind the finespun blush of First Lady. Viscaya winks at fresh bluestem grasses, native to both Anchor Paint and Origins creator, Chad Renfro.

Drawn from the success of residential and commercial projects in the Palm Beach market, Chad Renfro Design expanded its reach to include projects in Manhattan, The Hamptons, New Jersey, the West Coast of Florida, the Caribbean, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Park City, Utah. Today, his firm has offices in both South Florida and his native Oklahoma, and he continues to travel far and wide working with his clients on their primary and secondary residences and commercial projects.
In addition to being named in House Beautiful as one of their “Next Wave of Designers” in 2010, Chad has seen accolades in Cottages and Garden magazine, multiple Palm Beach publications, and has gained notoriety for his craft throughout the industry and all across the globe.

Chad Renfro Origins Palette