2. 5. 8. Limits for volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds in coatings on flooring

description relevant product categories 


Coatings strongly influence the quality of indoor air and its contaminant content. Coatings and coating strippers may emit considerable amounts of substances into the environment and indoor air. In water-based coatings, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are primarily used as coalescing agents, and are also emitted into indoor air. These VOC emissions get smaller in the course of time. How long the emission period is depends on the character of the compound in question, the indoor conditions, especially degree of ventilation, as well as the room temperature.

VOCs have numerous effects on human health and well-being, ranging from sensory impressions (smell, irritation) already at low concentrations, to toxic long-term effects, which usually occur only at higher concentrations. An important factor here is that part of the low-concentration effects are sensory impressions or other effects that cannot be (fully) examined in the context of animal testing. VOC mixtures may cause non-specific effects even at low concentrations, particularly irritations of the mucous membranes of the eyes and the nose, and the respiratory tract. In addition, exposure may result in non-specific symptoms such as headaches, tiredness, concentration problems, nausea, or elevated body temperature.

Beside the volatile organic compounds, semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOC) are increasingly being used in construction products. In most cases, esters and ethers of higher alcohols are used, which are constituents of low-solvent or solvent-free formulations of wall paints and water-based varnishes. The substances that are often detected in indoor air include glycols, glycol ethers and their esters. The observable tendency to substitute volatile solvents with solvents with a higher boiling point means that relevant emissions may occur over a longer period. The SVOCs used can also to some extent be detected in indoor air in surprisingly high concentrations, long after they have been applied.



minimum requirement

The maximum overall VOC content (total of VOCs plus SVOCs) is 6% by weight.

The SVOC content must not exceed 2% by weight, with substances that may cause sensitisation (H-phrases H317, H334, EUH208) limited to 0.1 % by weight. 


Safety data sheet as amended by Regulation (EU) No 453/2010, and manufacturer's declaration.

Alternatively, the corresponding baubook declaration may serve as evidence (www.baubook.info/oea).

Change of criteria

VOC and SVOC definitions added to the explanation.

Date of editorial change: March 12, 2024


baubook green procurement
Harmonised “EcoBuildingCriteria” provided by “ÖkoKauf Wien” and “service package sustainable construction in Vorarlberg”