A recent study conducted by UL Environment finds that some organic solvents used in floor coating products can have significant impact on indoor air. The study, detailed in a white paper recently issued by UL, tested a variety of solvent-based and water-based floor coating products for airborne emissions in specially designed environmental chambers that simulate indoor environments. Out of 12 coatings tested, only three products were considered low-emitting and the rest emitted volatile organic compounds (VOCs) at levels that could pose a risk for workers and consumers exposed to the product.

UL’s research examined three categories of wood floor coating products commonly found in the market: solvent-based coatings, traditional water-based coatings, and clean water-based coatings. A representative product of each type was tested for VOC emissions during the application phase of the product when the installer would most likely be exposed, as well as the post-occupancy phase when someone in a home or office would likely be exposed. Testing showed that:

• Total VOC levels from the solvent-based and traditional water-based costings were shown to exceed acceptable emission levels for GREENGUARD and GREENGUARD Gold Certification program, a standard developed by UL to minimize health risks associated with chemical emissions from products.
• The solvent-based coatings exceeded GREENGUARD Gold limits for 2-ethylhexanoic acid, a chemical which can pose significant safety risk to pregnant women and women of child-bearing age.
• The traditional water-based coating exceeded limits for n-methylpyrrolidone, another potential reproductive toxin.

Professionals and consumers looking for coatings that are better for indoor environments should look for products that have been GREENGUARD Certified because they have been specifically tested for indoor use and limit key VOCs that have been shown to have negative health effects. To find GREENGUARD Certified floor coatings, visit UL’s SPOT database at ul.com/spot.

To download the complete white paper, visit ul.com.