VOC’s are identified as chemicals that react with a chemical in the atmosphere to create compounds which cause ozone pollution. A VOC is toxic in and of itself, such as ethylene glycol, which is a toxic ingredient typically used in anti-freeze and in many paints.
Currently only the EEC (European Economic Community) has instituted a legal parameter to identify what amount and type of VOC’s is permitted in commercial products for all member Countries of the EEC. This law was first enacted in 1999, and then amended with stricter enforcements in 2004. The Law is identified as:
DIRECTIVE 2004/42/CE OF THE EUROPEA N PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 21 April 2004 on the limitation of emissions of volatile organic compounds due to the use of organic solvents in certain paints and varnishes and vehicle refinishing products and amending Directive 1999/13/EC. This directive requires that all paints must meet strictly imposed limits and types of VOC’s, scientifically verifiable, for each paint product, for every manufacturer or importer of paints or varnishes sold in the EEC.
As of 2009, there exists no American Standardization or Certification for identifying VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) contained in any commercial product sold in the USA, nor a national legal limit for what identifies the maximum VOC content permitted in commercial products sold in the USA, such as paints, varnishes, or automotive finishes. California, New York, and some eastern states have adopted a State legal requirement limiting the total amount of permitted VOC’s in such products.
Many USA Green Councils or Green Organizations providing certificates for VOC free paints do not require scientific verification of actual VOC content nor scientific verification on the level of VOC content in a gallon of paint, nor verification if the paints are environmentally safe, ecologically friendly, or non toxic. European laws require a separate scientific study for any paint product to be considered non toxic or environmentally safe.
VOC content, as declared in the USA, does not identify whether a paint product is toxic to your health. Thus the 0% VOC products being introduced as “environmental” by all the USA major paint companies, may in fact contain some highly toxic ingredients. American paint manufacturers are permitted to “buffer” their paints as 0% VOC because some VOC compounds prohibited in the EEC are not prohibited in the USA.
TINTS: The EEC Directive requires that VOC content include maximum full color concentration for each liter of paint. There is no requirement in the USA for any paint company to include color tints as a portion of the VOC content for paint. Thus, in the USA, 0% VOC is related to the content of the base paint before color is added. The EEC directive prohibts excess of 1.85 g/lt VOC, including color tints and any ingredients that may contain VOC in any paint or plaster.