Right blend

EU curbs on solvents

Published: Saturday 15 May 2004

-- (Credit: EMKAY)the European Parliament has voted in favour of cutting the use of some paint and varnish solvents, as these chemicals contribute significantly to the total emissions of volatile organic compounds (vocs). The latter lead to the formation of ground level ozone, also known as photochemical smog, which causes respiratory illnesses and crop damage.

The proposed directive, passed by a full session of European parliamentarians in late March, is expected to easily win the support of national governments. "Greening our paints is not a question of colour, but of reducing the content of dangerous solvents they contain," said Margot Walstrom, eu environment commissioner. But campaign group European Environment Bureau called on eu countries to go beyond this directive and adopt more stringent national measures in this regard.

The reduction is to take place in two steps -- in 2007 and 2010. The new legislation would aim to reduce voc emissions from paints and varnishes by about 280,000 tonnes per year by 2010. Such products will also have to carry a mandatory label specifying voc limit values and maximum voc quantity.

However, the parliament was not so progressive in its stance towards fluorinated gases (f-gases) -- the potent greenhouse gases used in refrigerators, air-conditioners and medical sprays. It passed an amendment to introduce restrictions on f-gases from January 2009, giving more time to the industry.

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