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Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) are compounds that contain a carbon, excluding carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, etc., which contribute to atmospheric photochemical reactions. The US Environmental Protection Agency has exempted certain compounds which have negligible photochemical activity.

Low VOC paint is expected to experience a rapid growth due to rising environmental concerns, government initiatives and government regulations. At the forefront of government regulations is California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), which is one of the most stringent regulatory bodies in the United States.

Many companies, such as Hawk, are investing heavily in Research and Development to provide low VOC solutions to comply with the stringent rules. In addition, low VOC offers other advantages, such as reduced ozone-depleting contaminants, lower odor, and simplified clean up and disposal. Keep in mind, odor is not always an indication of safety. For instance, some cheeses have strong odors, while some very harmful chemicals like carbon monoxide have no odor at all.

Hawk offers low VOC primers and topcoats, which meet the most stringent VOC regulations in the United States. The low VOC alternatives, which are also low odor, provide the same performance as their original counterparts. When mixed in the recommended ratios, the low VOC coatings are no longer restricted to the small container exemption.

Isocyanate coatings versus isocyanate-free coatings

What are isocyanates ?

Isocyanates are raw materials broadly used in various products such as foams, coatings and adhesives and are commonly known as a catalyst, hardener, curing agent or Part B in a 2-part polyurethane system. In refinishing applications, the isocyanate catalyst is mixed with the resin immediately prior to spraying and a solvent is added to achieve the desired viscosity.

Are there health or safety concerns ?

For the Professional Refinisher
Without proper personal protective equipment, the professional refinisher may experience skin, eye, nose irritation and possibly occupational asthma. Repeated exposure may lead to hypersensitivity, which may lead to rash, itching, and swelling. Please review our range of safety equipment.

For the Consumer
No risk to the consumer.  After spraying, there is no exposure risk to the isocyanate since it  is completely reacted and bound in the coating polymer matrix.

What alternatives are available?

If you would like your professional refinisher to use an isocyanate free system, you should ensure that the both Part A, the resin, AND Part B, the catalyst are isocyanate-free. Refinishing countertops, cabinets, tubs and tiles should be considered the same as painting any room in the house.

  • Continue to ventilate after painting is completed.
  • The EPA recommends that ventilation continue for 2 to 3 days after painting.
  • EPA provides a Healthy Indoor Painting Practices guide: EPA Guidelines
Isocyanate-free Products from Hawk