Information on the asphalt code of practice

Official title: Code of practice for the reduction of volatile organic compound emissions from cutback and emulsified asphalt

The Asphalt Code of Practice (the Code) applies to manufacturers of asphalt, paving companies, and anyone hiring a paving company or issuing a paving contract (purchasers). It aims to protect the environment and the health of Canadians by encouraging the use of low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) asphalt products such as emulsified asphalt. VOCs are chemicals that are released into the atmosphere whenever asphalt is applied and contribute to the formation of smog.

Why should I choose low-VOC asphalt products

How can I follow the Code

Maximum VOC content
Season Cutback asphalt Emulsified asphalt
May to September (ozone season) 0.5% 3.0%
October to April 5.0% not applicable

Record keeping and reporting

Cutback and emulsified asphalt

Cutback and emulsified asphalts are made up of asphalt cement combined with a solvent. Cutback asphalts use a petroleum product as a solvent such as gasoline, kerosene or fuel oil, while emulsified asphalts predominantly use water and an emulsifying agent. When these asphalts are applied, the liquid solvent evaporates as the asphalt cools. Compared to cutback asphalt, emulsified asphalt emits fewer VOCs.

Cutback asphalt (high VOC emissions)

Emulsified asphalt (low VOC emissions)

Stay informed

Please contact your regional Environment and Climate Change Canada office if you have any questions or concerns.

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