VOC concentration limits for architectural coatings regulations: frequently asked questions

The frequently asked questions (FAQs) below are meant to provide Canadians and businesses with basic information about Environment and Climate Change Canada’s regulations. The Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Concentration Limits for Architectural Coatings Regulations are among Environment and Climate Change Canada’s most frequently accessed regulations on the Web.

Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Concentration Limits for Architectural Coatings Regulations

  1. What is the purpose of these regulations?
  2. What are the key elements of these regulations?
  3. How do these regulations affect Canadian businesses?
  4. What is the timeline for implementation?
  5. Where can I get more information?

1. What is the purpose of these regulations?

The purpose of the Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Concentration Limits for Architectural Coatings Regulations (the Regulations) is to protect the environment and health of Canadians from the effects of air pollution by reducing VOC emissions. VOCs constitute one of the main ingredients in the formation of ground-level ozone, which contributes to the formation of smog. Consumer and commercial use of architectural coatings results in the emission of VOCs by evaporation during the drying process, following application of the coating to a surface.

2. What are the key elements of these regulations?

The Regulations set maximum VOC concentration limits for 53 categories of architectural coatings. Concentration limits vary between 100 grams per litre (g/L) and 800 g/L depending on the category and are set out in the Schedule of the Regulations.

The traffic marking coating category is also subject to an annual use prohibition during the period of May 1 to October 15. During this period, a person must not use traffic marking coating in which the VOC concentration exceeds 150 g/L. For the remainder of the year, traffic marking coatings have a VOC concentration limit of 450 g/L for use, manufacture, import, sale and offer for sale.

3. How do these regulations affect Canadian businesses?

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

The Regulations include provisions defining methods for the determination of VOC concentrations and other test methods, labelling requirements and record keeping. 

4. What is the timeline for implementation?

The Regulations, made under the authority of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, came into force on September 9, 2009.

Prohibitions applicable to manufacture, import, sale, offer for sale and use of architectural coatings came into effect at different times, as set out in the Schedule of the Regulations. The prohibitions for the sale and offer for sale related to the recycled coating category will take effect on September 10, 2016, while the prohibition for manufacture and import took effect on September 9, 2014.

5. Where can I get more information?

For more information, please visit the Architectural Coatings web page, or direct your questions and inquiries to Environment and Climate Change Canada:

Products Division
Environment and Climate Change Canada
351 St. Joseph Blvd, 9th Floor
Gatineau, QC K1A 0H3

Fax number: 888-391-3695 or 819-938-4480
Telephone: 888-391-3426 or 819-938-4483
Email address: ec.produits-products.ec@canada.ca

This document is intended to provide contextual information on the Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Concentration Limits for Architectural Coatings Regulations. It does not replace the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 or the Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Concentration Limits for Architectural Coatings Regulations. In the event of any inconsistencies, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 and the Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Concentration Limits for Architectural Coatings Regulations shall prevail.

For more information

To learn about upcoming or ongoing consultations on proposed federal regulations, visit the Canada Gazette and Consulting with Canadians websites.

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