Green Standards for Paints and Coatings Perform Important Roles
Green standards for paints and coatings perform an important role for specifiers. Among their many benefits, these standards regulate the maximum acceptable amount of VOCs in a product that qualifies it for a green rating. They also compare hiding ability with VOC content — a very important comparison when rating a building’s green value.
VOCs include components such as benzene, formaldehyde, and toluene that can adversely affect IAQ due to their carcinogenic and allergenic contents that evaporate into the air and either contact occupants’ skin or are inhaled. VOCs are detectable as the paint smell in newly painted spaces. This off-gassing is present not only during and right after painting, but long after workers have applied the paint and it has dried to the touch as the VOCs continue to vaporize.
Green rating standards also rate the scrubability of paints and coatings. A passing rating is 400 scrubs before required repainting, which translates to greater longevity.
May 2012 marked the effective beginning date for new hazardous communication rules for the conversion from materials safety data sheet (MSDS) labeling standards to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). While the conversion offers a
four-year transition plan with key milestones, some manufacturers already are shipping products that feature new GHS labeling.
All managers should start reviewing chemical labels on products that are shipped to them, along with the products’ MSDSs. Managers should not wait until the mandatory compliance date. Instead, they should begin training employees to read and interpret the new GHS-compliant labeling and safety data sheet formats as soon as they receive them. Among the key compliance deadlines for the new hazard communication standards are these:
- Nov. 1, 2013. Employers must train employees to read pre-GHS hazard communications or the revised standards for MSDS or GHS formats.
- Dec. 1, 2013. Employers must train employees who use, handle or store chemicals in new labeling and GHS safety data sheet formats.
- June 1, 2015. Employers must comply with all final rule modifications.
- Dec. 1, 2015. All shipped containers must have new GHS labels.
- June 1, 2016. Employers must update labeling and hazard communications programs, as well as provide training for any additional physical and health hazards they identify.
The transition of signage and labels for specific toxic chemicals includes a set of accelerated dates. One key date is Dec. 1, 2013.
By that date, all employees handling toxic substances must complete training in GHS compliant labels for containers of protective clothing, equipment, and waste contaminated by specific toxic substances, including asbestos, benzene, cadmium, chromium, and lead.
The new hazard communication regulations also add steps for achieving outcomes, while existing regulations focus more on defining outcomes. These new formats also include specific steps managers can implement to achieve the outcomes.