Statistics in brief - Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)

VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compounds. An organic compound having a boiling point of 250 °C or less at normal pressure is a volatile organic compound. Volatile organic compounds pollute the air and cause formation of ground-level ozone that is hazardous to plants and animals.

VOC in coatings for buildings and vehicle refinishing according to Directive 2004/42/EC

To limit the emission of such compound rules, Directive 2004/42/EC, was established to regulate how much VOC to be allowed in coatings for painting of buildings and in products for vehicle refinishing. Coatings for manufacturing of goods are not included since at industrial use outgoing air is expected to be purified from VOC at the plant.

The concentration of VOC in the product shall be stated on the label where also the category of the product shall be specified as the maximum permitted concentration is different for different categories. It does not forbid the use of solvent naphthas or other solvents in paints and coatings but sets maximum concentrations for all included volatile compounds.

Quantity of VOC in coatings for buildings and vehicle refinishing, turn-over in tonnes

Graph - Volatile Organic Compounds in paints to different sectors.

Source: Products Register, Swedish Chemicals Agency.

In 2012, 3,862 products were reported to the products register with some category defined according to the VOC rules. 2,746 of these are coatings for painting of buildings and 1,116 are for vehicle refinishing. The total quantity of these products is 136,000 tonnes. The amount of volatile organic compounds included is about 15,000 tonnes calculated with the concentration the companies have stated on the label.

If the total quantity of volatile organic compounds instead is calculated on the information on composition given by the companies it is about 13,000 tonnes. The companies state the maximum allowed concentration instead of calculating the actual concentration of volatiles in their products. This means that there will be an overestimation of the VOC quantity if the concentration on the label is used. The average concentration of VOC in all these products is in fact 10 per cent. 

The largest amount of VOC is contained in two-pack performance coatings used for film-forming on floors. Also the category one-pack performance coatings contains much VOC. It consists of both water and solvent based coatings for decoration both interior and exterior surfaces.

The largest quantity of VOC in vehicle refinishing products is found in special finishes that contain more than 700 tonnes, a substantial reduction since 2010 in spite of the fact that the number of special finishes has increased.

Xylene and different naphtas are the kinds of volatile organic compounds that are included in the largest amounts in these products.