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What you need to know about VOC regulation in the European Union
Solvents are present in all paint products used by the automotive industry. They serve an important purpose in enabling painters to apply coats easily and achieve optimal results.
VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS (VOCS)
Presence of solvents in paint can lead to emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The potential impact of a solvent-containing paint on the environment depends on the type and quantity of solvent in its formulation. Within the European Union (EU), VOC levels in paints are regulated to reduce their ecological effects.
PAINT PRODUCTS DIRECTIVE 2004/42/EC
VOC regulations have been specifically developed for different industries and applications. In our sector – automotive refinishes – the relevant regulation that should be followed is the Paint Products Directive 2004/42/EC. This regulation describes “The limitation of emissions of volatile organic compounds due to the use of organic solvents in decorative paints and varnishes and vehicle refinishing products”.
Annex II of the Directive sets out the VOC content limits – in grams per liter – for specific paint product sub-categories. These sub-categories are shown in Table 1 below. Please note that the limits specified are for the ready-to-use products – including hardeners, thinners and additives where applicable.
HOW TO STAY VOC-COMPLIANT
When selecting products for automotive refinishing in a country where EU regulations apply, ensure they are compliant with the Paint Products Directive and that their use is permitted for the intended application.
Valspar Automotive makes this easy by giving clear VOC information in its TDS for each product. The TDS shows which sub-category the product falls into and which VOC limit applies.
In the case of a VOC-compliant formulation, the TDS makes it obvious that the product in its ready-to-use state meets the requirements of the EU Directive. If a product is not VOC compliant it is specifically mentioned on the TDS.
VOC CONTENT LIMITS FIXED BY DIRECTIVE 2004/42/EC
|Subcategory||Coatings||VOC (in g/l)|
|Preparatory and cleaning products||Preparatory products||850|
|Primers||Surfacers/fillers and general primers||540|
|Topcoats (each layer)||Basecoats, direct gloss, clear coats, 3-stage topcoats||420|
|Special finishes||Aerosols, scratch-resistant clear coats, interior finishes||840|