Considerations when Working with Solvent-Based Paints

Solvent-based paints have been the traditional solution for painting PVCu and GRP fenestration products in bespoke colours for many years. However, working with high VOC solvent-based paints requires that key regulatory and operating requirements are observed in terms of product storage, health and safety in the workplace and the correct disposal of all associated waste streams to avoid any environmental hazards.

The key regulatory and operating requirements are :

  1. Health Risks: Solvent-based paints contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and hazardous chemicals that pose health risks to individuals exposed to fumes or direct contact. Prolonged or repeated exposure can lead to respiratory problems, skin irritation and other adverse health effects.


  1. Compliance and Regulations: Compliance with UK regulations regarding the storage and disposal of hazardous materials, including solvent-based paints, involves administrative expenses such as obtaining permits, conducting inspections, and ensuring adherence to environmental standards. Non-compliance can result in fines and legal penalties.


  1. Safety Equipment: Handling and storing solvent-based paints safely necessitate the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), including respirators, gloves, and protective clothing. Investing in high-quality PPE adds to the operational costs of businesses and increases overhead expenses.


  1. Storage Facilities: Solvent-based paints must be stored in dedicated facilities equipped with adequate ventilation, temperature control, and safety measures to prevent fire hazards. Establishing and maintaining such facilities can incur significant upfront costs for businesses and organizations.


  1. Fire and Explosion Risks: Solvent-based paints are flammable substances that present fire and explosion hazards if not stored and handled properly. Failure to observe safety protocols can lead to workplace accidents, property damage, and personal injuries, emphasizing the importance of stringent safety measures.


  1. Waste Disposal: Due to the solvents contained within waste associated with using solvent-based paints, waste disposal requires careful management in-house and the use of specialised disposal services. These disposal fees contribute to the overall cost of operating with solvent-based paints.


  1. Environmental Impact: Improper storage and disposal of solvent-based paints can result in contamination of soil, water bodies, and air, posing threats to ecosystems and wildlife. VOC emissions contribute to air pollution and ozone depletion, exacerbating environmental concerns and climate change.

In conclusion, working with solvent-based paints entails significant related costs and hazards, necessitating proactive measures to mitigate risks and promote responsible practices. Businesses must recognise these challenges by prioritising health and safety in the workplace, environmental sustainability and full compliance with regulatory requirements. To manage the hazards associated with solvent-based paint requires investing in proper storage facilities, adopting safe handling practices and complaint disposal methods. However, to contribute to a safer and more sustainable future for the business, many of the issues associated with using solvent-based paints can be eliminated at source by switching to water-based paints.

Water-based paints use water as the primary solvent, and they thereby have much lower levels of VOC and offer a far more sustainable solution and are therefore classified as non-hazardous materials that do not require special storage or waste disposal arrangements. Choosing water-based paints in place of solvent-based is a positive choice for any business and will contribute to the Environmental Management of an enterprise in line with ISO 14001.

At Prokolor, we only sell water-based coatings and paints that have the lowest VOC possible to achieve the required product performance for our highly demanding applications. All of our products are extensively tested and achieve the highest AAMA 615 certified performance; the most demanding test regime anywhere in the world for coatings for hard plastics for exterior construction components.


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