measuring VOCs

Subject: measuring VOCs
From: Michele Berkes 615-576-2352 <BERKESM -at- A1 -dot- OSTI -dot- GOV>
Date: Tue, 8 Mar 1994 17:16:00 -0400

Hi all! In an article I am editing, I came across some numbers that just
don't feel right. The article is intended for a general audience --
highlights of accomplishments for the year. Here's a sample:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is implementing
increasingly stringent regulations to minimize or eliminate the
emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). A large portion of
these emissions are from paints and other coating systems used by
industry. California has established upper limits for VOC emissions
of 420 gm/L for aerospace topcoats and 350 gm/L for primers; previous
typical values were 650 gm/L for standard formulations.

[Later it talks about how XYZ has worked with ABC to develop a new
coating that will release less than half the amount of VOCs as the
current product.]

I'm not familiar with the specifics of measuring emissions from paints,
but I do deal with emissions such as NOx, SO2, etc. from coal-fired
furnaces. I'm accustomed to seeing these emissions measured in
milligrams per cubic meter. Grams per liter and milligrams per cubic
meter are orders of magnitude different. If I'm reading this correctly,
420 grams per liter sounds like an _incredible_ concentration.

I cannot contact the authors directly. I've started the phone calls up
the required chain of command, but it might be a while before an answer
gets back to me. My usual in-house authority doesn't feel comfortable
enough with the subject matter to make pronouncements, but he said the
usage here would trouble him also. So, while I wait, can anyone familiar
with this subject tell me if measuring VOC emissions from paints in
grams per liter is reasonable? Am I trying to compare apples and
oranges? Can you point me to a reference?

Thanks for your help!

Michele Berkes
berkesm -at- a1 -dot- osti -dot- gov

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