What are Low VOC Solvents?

What are Low VOC Solvents?

If you’ve ever been around nail polish remover, gasoline, or paint, then you may have noticed a strong and distinct smell. These smells are a result of the compounds’ going from liquid to gas phase, or in other words, evaporating. The ability of a compound to evaporate is known as its volatility. VOC, which stands for Volatile Organic Compound, is a term used to define carbon-based chemicals that tend to evaporate quickly. This makes them difficult to work with and can cause harmful effects, particularly to the environment. For this reason, low VOC solvents have become increasingly important for industrial purposes.

Examples of Solvents with Low VOC

The EPA has a continuously updated list of chemicals that are exempt from VOC regulations. Here are a few of the more common solvents that qualify:

  • Methane
  • Ethane
  • Dichloromethane
  • Acetone
  • Methyl acetate
  • Methyl formate

These chemicals are commonly used in materials like paints, sealants, coolants, and cleaning supplies, which previously contained damaging solvents.

Why Limiting VOCs is Important

As one might imagine, it is difficult to use a liquid that very quickly disappears into the atmosphere. Exposure to the vapors from these chemicals can cause:

  • Skin and eye irritation
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Damage to the nervous system
  • Certain cancers with long-term exposure

However, on a broader scale, VOCs play a large role in the production of ozone. When VOCs react with nitrogen oxides in the presence of oxygen gas (both of which are prevalent in the air), it results in O3, or ozone, which has grave impacts on the health of the Earth’s atmosphere.

When excess ozone is contained in the atmosphere, heat generated by the Earth through industrial processes and the sun’s UV rays cannot be released into space at the same rate as it did historically. Instead, this heat becomes trapped and reflected back to the surface of the Earth.

Beyond trapping heat and contributing to climate change, increased ozone in the lower regions of the atmosphere can cause smog to accumulate around major cities, which can lead to serious health issues for a lot of people.

Looking to Purchase Low VOC Solvents?

LssChemicals is proud to supply businesses with an array of eco-friendly solvents. If you are interested in transitioning to a more environmentally conscious solvent for your industrial needs, please click here to contact us. Our chemical experts are happy to help!