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Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive

by Ron Joseph

November, 2005

Is Benzyl Alcohol a VOC?

Q. Benzyl Alcohol is sometimes used as a diluent in coatings. Does the EPA classify Benzyl Alcohol as a VOC? Could you identify an EPA document that makes this clear? Thank you for your assistance.

A. Benzyl alcohol is a VOC. There is no document of which I am aware that specifically mentions benzyl alcohol; however, EPAs definition of VOC applies. Basically, ALL volatile organic compounds are smog formers (VOC), except for those that have "negligible photochemical reactivity." The EPA publishes a list of those that have negligible photochemical reactivity (which the EPA calls "exempt compounds"). Methyl acetate, t-butyl acetate, PCBTF, volatile siloxanes, methylene chloride, acetone and others are on that list. Benzyl alcohol is not.

Best wishes,

Ron Joseph

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