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Volatile Organic Compounds

Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs, have played a significant role in the coating industry since around 1970 when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enacted the Clean Air Act. The EPA defines these compounds as “any compound of carbon, excluding a select few, which participates in atmospheric photochemical reactions.” Essentially, these compounds are air pollutants. While this act focuses on both indoor and outdoor VOC contaminations, the concerns for the two are vastly different. Outdoor VOC pollutants are regulated due to their ability to create dense smog caused by photochemical reactions in the atmosphere. In the case of indoor VOC pollutants, regulations were set to minimize the potential of adversely impacting the health of the people exposed.

There are two different categories that VOC measurements can fall into. VOC included is calculated considering every organic compound in a product that can vaporize into a gas. However, the EPA has created a list of “exempt” compounds that are not considered to be pollutants. Because compounds on this list have proven to have slow reactions and emissions with minimal effects on human health and ozone pollution, they do not necessarily have to be considered for this calculation. This number is referred to as VOC excluded.

Due to the growing desire for companies to become “greener” or “environmentally friendly,” it is favorable to purchase and manufacture products using more exempt VOCs rather than non-exempt ones to minimize environmental hazards.  Here at Marcus Paint, we have gone the extra mile by formulating a low-VOC coating that is also antimicrobial. We started this project by developing a low-VOC resin that would not compromise the performance of the paint (https://marcuspaint.com/voc-challenges/). Once this was complete, we could now remove the non-exempt solvents from the formulation and replace other VOC additives with more eco-friendly options. Doing this allowed us to achieve a 0 VOC formulation. Next, we partnered with various companies offering antimicrobial additives to evaluate our options and determine which one was most compatible with our coatings. After many rounds of testing, we finalized a formulation that exceeded our standards.

Our motivation to develop this formula stemmed from not only our drive to be more eco-friendly, but also from our concern for our customer’s environments. Antimicrobial paints have proven to provide long-lasting protection from harmful bacteria, mold, and fungi that build up over time. This minimizes staining, foul odors, and material degradation to whatever surface it’s applied to. On top of their lasting durability, antimicrobial additives can also be easily added to a variety of coating formulations, making them a cost-effective additive. Our company’s top priority has been and always will be our customers. We will continue to work towards tailoring our products to benefit them in as many ways as we can!

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