Architectural Coatings

Information Sheet - Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Concentration Limits for Architectural Coatings (PDF - 1.04 MB)

Information Sheet #2 – September 2014 update – Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Concentration Limits for Architectural Coatings

Information Sheet - Applying Traffic Marking Coatings? (PDF - 261.8 KB)

Guidance Document - Analytical Methods for Determining Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Concentration and Other Parameters for the VOC Regulations (PDF - 267.1 KB)

Publication of the Regulations

Environment Canada has published the Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Concentration Limits for Architectural Coatings Regulations in the Canada Gazette, Part II.

What Are Architectural Coatings?

Architectural coatings are products such as paints, stains, varnishes, lacquers and other types of coatings applied to traffic surfaces or to a wide variety of stationary structures in residential, commercial, institutional and industrial settings.

The Canadian architectural coatings sector produces coatings for three main segments:

  • General architectural coatings: coatings sold to painting contractors and to the general public through retail outlets.
  • Industrial maintenance coatings:high-performance architectural coatings for industrial or professional application to surfaces exposed to extreme conditions.
  • Traffic marking coatings: used for marking traffic surfaces such as streets and highways, parking lots, airport runways.

What Are VOCs?

Volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from the architectural coating sector result from the use of solvents in both solvent-based and water-based coatings. The solvents in coatings are released to the atmosphere by evaporation during the drying and curing process. They then contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone and particulate matter, which form smog.

Why Are Regulations Necessary?

The Government of Canada is working to protect the environment and health of Canadians from the effects of air pollution which increase the risk of respiratory and heart diseases.

In 2005, it was estimated that 51 kilotonnes of VOCs were emitted from architectural coatings in Canada. It is not feasible to capture and control VOC emissions resulting at the point of use. The best option to reduce VOC emissions from architectural coatings is to reformulate products to contain lower levels of VOCs. The Regulations would result in an annual reduction in VOC emissions from these sources of approximately 28%.

To Whom Do the Regulations Apply?

The Regulations apply to the manufacturers, importers and sellers of architectural coatings, as well as to the users of traffic marking coatings.

What Are the Main Requirements of the Regulations?

The Regulations set mandatory VOC concentration limits for 53 categories of architectural coatings. Concentration limits vary between 100 g/L–800 g/L depending on the category and are set out in the Schedule to the Regulations.

The prohibition of architectural coatings that exceed the applicable limit takes effect as follows:

  • The prohibition on manufacture and import takes effect on:
    September 9, 2010, for 46 out of 53 categories;
    September 9, 2012, for 6 categories out of 53 categories;
    September 9, 2014, for the remaining one category (i.e. "44. Recycled coating").
  • The prohibition on sale and offer for sale takes effect 2 years after the applicable prohibition on manufacture and import does, for each category.
  • Concerning traffic marking coatings, a prohibition on the use of those with VOC concentrations exceeding 150 g/L takes effect September 10, 2012.

The category for “traffic marking coating” is the only one subject to an annual use prohibition during the period beginning May 1 and ending October 15, when the VOC concentration exceeds 150 g/L. For the remainder of the year, the use of traffic marking coatings will not be restricted and applicators will be able to use products which are compliant with the Regulations for manufacture, import, sale and offer for sale.

These specific requirements were developed in response to concerns expressed by traffic marking stakeholders regarding the performance and cost of low-VOC traffic marking coatings for cold weather application.



If you are interested in finding out more or in receiving correspondence on the Regulations, please contact:

1-888-391-3695 or 819-953-3132