VOC’s Volatile Organic Compounds

What are VOC’s and Their Effects?

VOC’s are found in many products including paints, coatings and cleaning fluids. They are a major concern of the EPA as well as state air quality organizations throughout the United States. VOC’s are thought to be a contributing factor to ozone, a common air pollutant proven to be a public health hazard. Upper atmosphere ozone is beneficial, while ozone found at the ground level is not. In the upper atmosphere ozone protects all of us from the sun’s dangerous UV rays, while ground level ozone, being a highly reactive gas is believed to affect the normal lung functions in many healthy humans.

Ozone is a difficult pollutant to control as it is not emitted directly into the air. It forms in the atmosphere through a photochemical process. The VOC’s react with oxides of nitrogen and sunlight and form ozone. By controlling VOC’s the EPA has determined that controlling them is effective in minimizing ozone levels.

In 2005 CARB (the California Air Resource Board) and several northeastern states in the U.S. formed the OTC (Ozone Transport Commission) and now regulate the levels of many consumer products. The consumer products are defined broadly in the regulations and include several commercial and institutional products, which includes car care products, as well as household products. The VOC rule adopted for the OTC is 350ml/liter. Dependent on the specific state and their specific enactment date, products that are regulated should identify them as “meeting the CARB/OTC VOC REGULATIONS FOR CONSUMER PRODUCTS manufactured after” (adopted date listed below), or “this product meets VOC Standards for products manufactured after” (adopted date listed below).

For several years the State of California has been regulating the VOC limits of consumer products. VOC regulations in several of the northeastern states went into effect in 2005. Currently 13 northeastern states have enacted or are planning to enact the VOC regulations in 2005. It is anticipated that all OTC states will ultimately regulate the VOC content of consumer products. The current status by state is listed below:

States and Status

Status: Effective Jan. 1, 2005
Status: Effective Jan. 1, 2005
Status: Effective Jan. 1, 2005
Status: Effective Jan. 1, 2005
Status: Effective Jan. 1, 2005
Status: Effective Jan. 1, 2005
Status: Effective Jan. 1, 2005
Status: Effective Jan. 1, 2005
Status: Not yet adopted
Status: Not yet adopted
Status: Effective Jan. 1, 2005
Status: Not yet adopted
Status: Effective Jan. 1, 2005

For more information on the Ozone Transport Commission (OTC), go to: http://www.otcair.org/state_links.asp Click on Model Rule Adoption Matrix for the latest state adoptions. In addition you make find further specific state information on the websites listed below.

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