Solvents fulfill their main task when the paint is applied. They regulate the required viscosity of the material and affect the build up as well as the surface quality of the freshly applied coat. Once the process of application has been completed the solvents have done their job and should evaporate as quickly as possible.
However, the fact that they escape into the air means the solvents contribute to air pollution. Especially in summer, when high pressure predominates to give fine weather, they promote the formation of ozone close to the ground.
Now, ozone is a natural component of the atmosphere and protects the Earth from over-intensive irradiation by the sun. However, closer to ground level, too high a concentration of ozone can have damaging consequences as far as living things are concerned.
If humans breathe in too much ozone it can lead to chest pains, coughing and asthma attacks. The proportion of organic solvents that escape into the air during the manufacture and application of paint is currently around 32% of all VOC emissions. This level of output is now set to undergo a drastic reduction.
VOC DefinitionIn the European VOC Guideline, volatile organic solvents are defined as organic compounds which, at 20 °C, have a vapour pressure of 0.01 kPa or, under their respective conditions of use, demonstrate corresponding volatility.
With respect to automotive refinish paints the following statement applies: all organic solvents in automotive repair paints count as VOCs. This includes both solvents that are included by the manufacturer at the time of production, and those that are added by the painter at the time of mixing.
VOC legislation in AustraliaWhile no formal legislation exists in Australia in relation to the automotive paint industry, with the rate of importation of overseas-manufactured vehicles - especially from locations such as Europe and North America where regulations are in place or about to be introduced - this environmental issue is not without local impact.
DuPont Performance Coatings and Spies Hecker in Australia are market leaders in already having developed and introduced quality refinish products that meet international VOC compliance requirements.
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