The same but different

Although low-VOC adhesives are marketed as direct replacements for VOC-solvent-based adhesives, there are significant differences

In markets subject to volatile organic compound (VOC) regulations, single-ply roof membrane manufacturers supply alternative materials for solvent-based adhesives and primers. Among the VOC regulation-compliant materials that have emerged, low-VOC solvent-based and water-based adhesives are marketed as direct replacements for VOC-solvent-based contact adhesives.

Although intended as direct replacements, these materials should be considered apart from traditional solvent-based contact adhesives. For one thing, work and handling practices for low-VOC materials differ somewhat from those for traditional solvent-based materials. And water-based materials present some challenges that set them apart from both types of solvent-based materials. Additionally, depending on specific products and manufacturers, different recommendations for handling and use may apply for products within the same general category.

Where are VOCs regulated?

The California Clean Air Act of 1988 established the framework for the state's air quality management efforts, including requirements for controlling ground-level ozone. To meet the requirements, in 1989, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, which is the air pollution control agency for Orange County and urban portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, adopted Rule 1168. Rule 1168 limits VOC content of adhesives and sealants, including single-ply roof membrane adhesives and sealants. The VOC content limits introduced in Rule 1168 later were included in similar regulations adopted by a number of other California air districts.