Expert advice

What is a VOC?

VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compound. Most solvents used in paint are VOCs.

Why do we need solvent in paint? Well, solvents aid paint application by reducing viscosity and improving flow and leveling and are essential in many Yacht coatings. Topcoats are a key example as they are expected to have excellent aesthetics and hence require excellent flow properties.

VOCs are lost from coatings during drying and rise into the air. They mix with other chemicals, such as oxides of Nitrogen and Sulfur, which come from industry emissions and vehicle exhausts. VOCs from coatings and other sources react with other pollutants in the presence of sunlight to form ground level Ozone (O3).

At high enough concentrations, low level ozone causes health problems in humans, such as asthma. It also damages vegetation, such as agricultural crops and forests. Low level ozone mixes with air-borne particulate matter to form smog. 

Ozone concentration in cities is increasing, leading to major smog problems. In 2008 smog was a big problem for China when they hosted the Olympics in Beijing. Smog occurs in many large cities which have a lot of industry and high average sunlight levels.

Smog is a worsening problem in cities of developing countries (China, Korea, etc). Developed countries are looking for further improvements in air quality (EU, USA). To control the build up of smog and ozone, countries have introduced legislation which limits the amount of ozone pre-cursors: NOx, SOx and VOCs. 

Due to the impact of VOCs, legislation is getting tougher at an increasing rate as well as spreading geographically. 

AkzoNobel Yacht already has a number of lower VOC product offers within the ranges and we have a comprehensive product development program underway focused on providing our customers with a full range of even lower VOC products in the future.

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