Steel Manufacturing Blog: Keeping it Steel

VOC Regulations Regarding Structural and Miscellaneous Steel Primers

Posted on Thu, Apr 23, 2020 @ 11:41 AM

Environmental regulations for the construction industry are continually developed, and in many cases increased. As most readers of this blog are likely already aware, one highly regulated area of construction pertains to the use of steel primers, particularly the level of volatile organic compounds (or “VOCs”) that they contain.

Generally defined, a volatile organic compound (VOC) is an “organic chemical compounds whose composition makes it possible for them to evaporate under normal indoor atmospheric conditions of temperature and pressure”. Specific chemicals that fall under this definition are benzene, ethylene, glycol, toluene, as well as many others. In steel primers, these chemicals act as solvents while the primer is in liquid form but evaporate into the atmosphere by the time the primer dries.

The level of VOCs a product, such as steel primer, can contain is regulated differently based on whether it is being used on in the field or at a shop. In regard to jobsite use, the point of regulating VOCs is to limit the amount of ozone that is created in our atmosphere as a result of their use. 

In total, there are six different regulations in the United States. Each of these regulations cover a different region of the country, and each of them stipulates a different allowable level of VOCs. Within each of these regulations, there are several categories that coatings can fall under. Virtually all paint or primer products are covered by these categories, everything from wood working varnish to temperature applied enamel. Structural and miscellaneous steel primer falls specifically under the “Industrial Maintenance Coatings” category.

The Steel Supply Company can provide you with a copy of the VOC regulations that cover your area. If you’re interested in receiving this information, simply follow the link below, fill out the form, and you’ll be sent the PDF containing all of this information.

VOC Regulation Guide - Submit Request

Keep in mind that these regulations frequently change, and it’s important to stay current with what the regulations currently mandate.

As mentioned earlier, there are different regulations regarding VOC levels depending on if the product is used on a jobsite or at a shop. As such, structural and miscellaneous steel fabricators may be exempt from their region’s outdoor VOC regulations if they are applying the steel primer at their fabricating facility. If you have any concerns regarding this, please reach out to The Steel Supply Company and one of our representatives will be happy to assist you.


An important note to our steel fabricators currently using KRYLON INDUSTRIAL STEEL PRIMERS, upcoming changes are being affected on the following areas in the near future. These changes are listed below:


Colorado Region: OTC 2 New VOC max. 250 gm/l Effective: 5/1/2020
New York Region: OTC 2 New VOC max. 250 gm/l Proposed: 1/1/2021
Rhode Island Region: OTC 2 New VOC max. 250 gm/l Effective: 1/1/2020


Tags: Steel Primer