2. 5. 4. VOC and SVOC limits for interior coatings

description relevant product categories 


Varnishes and glazes strongly influence the quality of indoor air and its content of contaminants. Coatings and coating strippers may emit considerable amounts of substances into the environment and into indoor air.

In water-based coatings, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are primarily used as coalescing agents, and are also emitted into indoor air. These VOC emissions get smaller in the course of time. How long the emission period is depends on the character of the compound in question, the indoor conditions, especially the degree of ventilation, as well as the room temperature.


VOCs have numerous effects on human health and well-being, ranging from sensory impressions (smell, irritation) already at low concentrations, to toxic long-term effects, which usually occur only at higher concentrations. An important factor here is that part of the low-concentration effects are sensory impressions or other effects that cannot be (fully) examined in the context of animal testing. VOC mixtures may cause non-specific effects even at low concentrations, particularly irritations of the mucous membranes of the eyes and the nose, and the respiratory tract. In addition, exposure may result in non-specific symptoms such as headaches, tiredness, concentration problems, nausea, or elevated body temperature.

In industry, there is a tendency to replace volatile compounds in building products by semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs). In most cases, esters and ethers of higher alcohols are used, which are constituents of low-solvent or solvent-free formulations of wall paints and water-based varnishes. The substances that are often detected in indoor air include glycols, glycol ethers and their esters. The observable tendency to substitute volatile solvents with solvents with a higher boiling point means that relevant emissions may occur over a longer period. The SVOCs used can also to some extent be detected in indoor air in surprisingly high concentrations, long after they have been applied.

minimum requirement

The maximum overall VOC content (total of VOCs plus SVOCs) of coatings for interiors is 8% by weight (with SVOCs accounting for a maximum of 3% by weight). The maximum VOC content of colorless covering coats is 5% by weight.

Safety data sheet as amended by Regulation (EU) No 453/2010, and manufacturer's declaration.


All products awarded the following eco label meet these criteria:

Alternatively, the corresponding baubook declaration may serve as evidence (www.baubook.info/oea).


baubook green procurement
Harmonised “EcoBuildingCriteria” provided by “ÖkoKauf Wien” and “service package sustainable construction in Vorarlberg”