Estimating the total amount of VOCs from a wet-applied coating used on a job is difficult, but the Healthy Building Network’s recently released CompAIR VOC calculator should make the process easier. Located on HBN’s Pharos website, CompAIR gives design teams a tool for calculating total VOCs and the ability to compare that number against numbers for other coating options. 



Getting the full story


“We created this calculator in order to give people an easier way to compareproducts,” said Sarah Lott, researcher at Healthy Building Network. “We found that just looking at reported VOC content from manufacturers doesn’t always give you the full story.”


There are several reasons for confusion over a coating’s VOC content: data sheets and can labels do not reflect the total amount of VOCs once the coating is applied since some paints may require more coats or cover fewer square feet. Additionally, coatings from Europe don’t use the same test methodology (EU Solvent Emissions Directive) as those in the U.S. (EPA Method 24).


Inputs and outputs


Data on some coatings are already in the CompAIR database, but for those that aren’t, users can estimate total VOCs independent of testing methods through some simple user input, usually found on a data sheet, including:


Percent solids (by weight) Percent water (by weight) Product density Coverage Number of coats


CompAIR provides two options for calculating VOCs, Lott said. The first is a simplified version for those without a Pharos subscription that gives basic information on methodology along with the ability to calculate VOCs for a single product. Member versions provide access to the Pharos product library and allow users the ability to save information to a portfolio and compare products.


Though CompAIR provides a simple tool for calculating VOCs, it does not give end users information on semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), which are difficult to measure and are currently part of the paint solids or other hazardous materials. Future versions may include this data, but for now, HBN says that CompAIR is “another tool in the arsenal” for assessing the health impact of a coating.


For more information:


Healthy Building Network