Does the VOC content of the sealer you’re using meet current federal and local regulations?
Does the VOC content of the sealer you’re using meet current federal
and local regulations?
I have heard that the VOC regulations are changing in 2006. How will this affect the use of solvent-based sealers in the United States?
VOCs (or volatile organic compounds) are carbon-based compounds released from solvents and plastics that form ozone and adversely impact the environment and atmosphere. The federal government as well as state and local agencies have mandated certain maximum VOC contents that particular products are permitted to contain. In regard to sealers for concrete, certain states default to the federal mandates while some set their own. To complicate things further, certain counties and “air-management districts” have set their own maximum VOC levels.
In 2006, the federal maximum VOC content for concrete sealers remains at 680 grams per liter (g/L). This allows most one-part solvent-based acrylic sealers with a solids content of 25% or more to meet federal VOC guidelines. On January 1, 2005, seven northeastern states (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia, and Virginia) lowered their maximum VOC content regulations to 400 g/L. This dramatically limits the solvent-based sealers that can be used in these states. In 2006, the South Coast Air Management District governing Los Angeles and Orange Counties in California is lowering the maximum VOC content to 100 g/L. This essentially prohibits the use of any solvent-based concrete sealer in those two counties. Other air districts in California are considering the 100 g/L limit, which could take effect as soon as 2007. While many states have relatively loose VOC regulations compared with California, I would suggest starting to think about using water-based sealers in the future.
It’s important to note that not all solvent-based sealers contain the same amount of VOCs. For example, xylene is a common solvent found in concrete sealers and produces VOCs, while acetone, another common solvent found in concrete sealers, is considered an exempt solvent and produces no VOCs. The other key factor is solids content. The higher the solid-resin content, the lower the liquid solvent and VOC content.
You can find out the solids and VOC content for the sealer you use by looking at the MSDS or specification sheet for the product. For more information on solvents and VOC regulations, check out these two resources from the American Solvents Council: www.americansolventscouncil.org/regulatory/VOC.asp