Paints & Coatings Resource Center

Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive

by Ron Joseph

March, 2004

VOC-Free Coatings

Q. Is there an EPA definition of VOC-free coatings, specifically for the paper industry? I have heard that EPA considers any coating containing less than 0.5% VOCs to be "VOC-free" but cannot find this substantiated in any document.

A. I sent your question to my friend Dave Salman who works at the EPA and is the paint guru there. Here is his response to your question:

We have had plenty of discussions about this (primarily in the context of "zero" VOC interior house paints), but we have never come up with a solution. I have never seen 0.5 weight percent used in this way.

The HAP-free designation isn't so great in the sense that if you have a few HAP at just less than 1.0 weight percent that you ignore you can have a total of 2+ or 3+ weight percent which could be "significant" - certainly it's a significant fraction of many of the limits in the NESHAP.

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