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2010 VOC Regulations And How They Affect You.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

There are many confusing statements currently in circulation regarding the above regulation (otherwise known as VOC 2010 Legislation), and we have tried to simplify this with the following.
What are VOCs?

VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compound. VOC’s are chemical elements that are contained in a variety of industrial products and by-products, such as exhaust-fumes, domestic cleaning agents, as well as paints. VOC’s readily evaporate into the atmosphere when VOC containing products are used. In paints, solvents like white spirit and ethanol are the main VOC carriers; however, the amount in solvent-based paints is significantly higher than in water-based paints.

What is the actual name of the so-called ‘VOC 2010 legislation’?

The official name of the legislation as released by the European Union is EU directive 2004/42/EC. Within UK legislation, this EU directive has been introduced under the name The Volatile Organic Compounds in Paints, Varnishes and Vehicle Refinishing Products Regulations 2005. However, in the public sphere, the short version that tends to be used is ‘VOC 2010 legislation’

What is the legislation about?

VOC 2010 legislation introduces new, stricter limits on the maximum amount of VOC’s that can be contained in decorative paints, stains and varnishes. Products are divided into different categories, and within each categories, different limits apply to solvent and water-based products.

When will the new VOC limits come into force?

The revised lower VOC limits will come into force from January 1st 2010. From that date forward, non-compliant products can no longer be manufactured, however, during the whole of 2010, non-compliant products can still be sold legally.

The final cut-off date from where no more non-compliant products can be sold is January 1st 2011.

Users are not affected by any legal deadlines and can use up all of their non-compliant product stocks beyond 2011.

What is VOC 2010 legislation ultimately aiming to achieve?

VOC 2010 legislation seeks to reduce the amount of VOC’s that are emitted by the paint industry for environmental and health reasons. VOC’s contribute to air pollution and are said to be linked to global warming. They also contribute to the creation of ozone in the lower atmosphere, which poses a health risk to humans, animals and vegetation. Although the paint industry is by no means the largest contributor to total VOC emissions, there is a responsibility on paint manufacturers to invest effort into reducing VOC emissions.

What are the paint manufacturers doing about this?

With VOC 2010 legislation coming into force from January 1st 2010 and with it new, stricter limits on the amount of VOC’s that can be contained in decorative paints, stains and varnishes. Paint manufacturers are actively working on reducing the amount of VOC’s that are contained in their products.

Traditional solvent-based products are posing the main challenge, as their VOC contents tend to lie significantly above the 2010 legislative limits. For this reason, many seem to believe that from 2010, only water-based formulations will be available, this will not be the case.

The paint companies are aware that many of their customers continue to prefer the application and performance characteristics offered by solvent-based trim paints, and are paint systems that are solvent based AND fully VOC 2010, indeed some or already on sale.

Does this mean that Paints will no longer be thinned with White Spirits?

No. 2010 compliant paint products already in the market still require White Spirit for brush cleaning and thinning where required.

Are any Bartoline products affected by this legislation?

Yes. A list of the products is shown below but all of them already comply with the 2010 limits:

Bitcote Black Bitumen Paint
Creocote Oil Based Wood Treatment
Patent Knotting
Teak Oil
For further information, please contact our coordinator Kevin Duplock at

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