Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are organic chemicals that have a high vapor pressure at a low boiling point – meaning, they can turn from solids and liquids into gasses at ordinary room temperature. This transformation releases large numbers of molecules into the surrounding air. VOCs can be either man-made or naturally-occurring, harmful, helpful, or inconsequential.
While some VOCs don’t cause any apparent health risks, others are known to have potential health impact ranging from minor issues like throat and sinus irritation, to serious, long-term respiratory, allergic, and immune effects.
The Lumber Industry
When it comes to paints, stains, and coatings in the lumber industry, “VOC” connotes serious risk. The volatile compounds that evaporate from some paints – including the commonly known formaldehyde, which is emitted at an alarmingly low boiling point – have been found to harm both human health and the greater environment.
Most of the VOCs in this industry come from anthropogenic sources, meaning they’re caused by human activity. A major source of anthropogenic VOCs are protective coatings and stains, because the solvents typically used as carriers in these coatings – acetone, ethylene glycol, formaldehyde, among others – have varying toxic effects. While many VOCs carry easily detectable scents, others are odorless and therefore more difficult to notice, mitigate, and control.
Trend Toward Aqueous Solution
Fortunately, just as chemistry gives us the tools to create harmful VOCs, it also gives us the capability to reduce our impact. Eco Chemical™ has met this industry challenge with the development of aqueous solutions – waterborne stains and coatings. This technology drastically reduces levels of VOCs, therefore reducing the harmfulness in the process.
While lumber that’s coated with paints and stains containing high VOCs, and then stockpiled to sit in warehouses and lumberyards, can have a substantial negative impact on air quality, waterborne paints and stains can provide the same or better protection to extend the life of the lumber products without causing increased health concerns.
Contact Eco Chemical™ today at email@example.com to learn more about our low-VOC paints and stains!