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What are VOCs?

VOCs stand for volatile organic compounds. These hydrocarbons are characterised by a vapour pressure of 0.01 kPa or equivalent volatility at an ambient temperature of 20 degrees.

Given their composition (a chain with a number of carbons of less than 12 and a thousand elements), the hazardous nature of these organic compounds must be emphasised in some cases. We can classify this danger in three main groups in descending order:

  1. VOCs extremely hazardous to health.
  2. VOCs that can cause significant damage to the environment.
  3. VOCs with the least impact on the environment.

These hydrocarbons can be harmful to both the environment and human health. Some of them are ozone depleting, and therefore enhance the depletion of the ozone layer, as well as being precursors of ground-level ozone.

In order to avoid these situations, the regulations governing the use of these components have arisen. At the European level, Directive 1999/13/EC on the limitation of VOC emissions came into being. This directive was transposed into national legislation by Royal Decree 117/2003 of 31 January 2003, on the limitation of VOCs in certain activities, provided that they exceed the thresholds established in this Royal Decree. One of the activities covered by this regulation is the manufacture and use of varnishes.

In order to avoid possible damage in the use and manufacture of varnishes, the obligations imposed by the Royal Decree must be followed and complied with, including the following:

  • If the installation is affected by IPPC Law 16/2002, the company must have an environmental permit.
  • The installation must comply with the limit values, or the establishment of an emission reduction scheme, with an exception if it is demonstrated that best available techniques are applied.
  • They must comply with the strictest limits for toxic VOCs.
  • The operator must demonstrate that the limit values are met with the requirements of the emission reduction system or demonstrate that the best available techniques are applied. Compliance can be achieved through a Solvent Management Plan.

These regulations were subsequently supplemented by Directive 2004/42/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the limitation of VOC emissions due to the use of organic solvents in certain paints and varnishes and vehicle refinishing products. In the same way, the legal regime on VOC emission limitations is complemented, at national level, with the Royal Decree 227/2006.

At Industrias Químicas IRIS, S.A., given our awareness of the environment and people’s health, we manufacture all our products in compliance with the aforementioned regulations, and always reducing any type of damage or harmful emissions.

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