VOC Emission Enforcement Information

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Ask Andy: Use of Aqueous Cleaners and VOC Emission Enforcement

Ask Andy: Even though I’m cleaning with an aqueous cleaner, I’ve heard that regulators can come after me for VOC emission enforcement. How can this be? 

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are regulated at the federal and state levels because their environmental release results in photochemical reactions causing ground-level ozone, or smog, formation. Health impacts are also a concern, as VOCs have been implicated in various respiratory conditions.

The Federal government defines VOCs as carbon-containing compounds which promote atmospheric photochemical reactions. Excepted from this definition are carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, carbonic acid, metallic carbides or carbonates and ammonium carbonate. VOCs are fairly ubiquitous, as they are both man-made and naturally-occurring sources.

These organic chemicals have a high vapor pressure at ordinary room temperature. Their low boiling point causes large numbers of molecules to evaporate or sublimate from liquid or solid forms and enter the surrounding air, a trait known as volatility.

Sources include many household products and commercial products, including paints and other solvents Continue reading