The manufacture and application of solvent-based adhesives and coatings release significant emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the environment. When evaporated, these VOCs react with nitrogen oxide (NOx) in the presence of sunlight to form ground level ozone; as such, they are regulated as an ozone precursor under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) criteria pollution program. In sufficient quantities, VOCs can cause adverse effects on human health, including eye, nose and throat irritations; headaches; dizziness; visual disorders; and memory impairment.
VOCs and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) are regulated by federal, state and local regulatory agencies through guidelines established by the Clean Air Act. The EPA has developed National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for paint manufacturing facilities and numerous coating application industries. In general, these regulations limit the amount of VOC emissions (usually quantified in tons allowed) that can be emitted. Emissions limits differ across industries and locations.