News Brief

SCAQMD Sets First VOC Limits for Colorants

Precedent-setting regulations in Southern California now limit VOCs in colorants and toughen the requirements for certain specialty coatings.

Colorants are a major new focus of updated SCAQMD VOC limits.

Photo: Omar Bárcena. License: CC BY 2.0.
Tighter emissions restrictions on colorants and specialty coatings have taken effect in Southern California. The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), which sets policy in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, and Riverside counties, will begin enforcing lower VOC limits for certain architectural and industrial maintenance coatings.

Previously unregulated colorants now have a VOC limit of 50 grams per liter (g/L). Although colorant added at the factory or sold for use on the jobsite is not subject to the limit, the rule regulates tints added at the point of sale, which can elevate VOC levels in a final product even when a low- or zero-VOC base coating is used. The VOC limit on primers, sealers, and undercoats remains at 100 g/L and was not lowered as had been proposed; however, lower limits were set for several specialty coatings, including concrete surface retarders, fire-proofing coatings, and mastic coatings. In addition, coatings sold in containers larger than two fluid ounces must include VOC content on the labeling.

Although the regulations apply only to four Southern California counties, and existing versions of LEED reference older versions of SCAQMD rules (and are not likely to be updated if precedent holds), the standard could be a potential model for future regulatory changes elsewhere in the U.S.

Published February 3, 2014

Pearson, C. (2014, February 3). SCAQMD Sets First VOC Limits for Colorants. Retrieved from

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