South Coast Air Quality Management District



Americans, on average, spend approximately 90% of their time indoors, where the concentrations of pollutants are often 2-5x higher than typical outdoor concentrations. 12


Air quality is an important element of our interior environment. Poor air quality is associated with many health problems, including asthma, heart disease, and cancer. Prime sources of indoor air pollution include house paint, furniture varnish, and thousands of products containing solvents that evaporate into the air.1


There are certain standards we can utilize in specs to ensure better air quality and healthier environments. One way we can improve air quality by specifying low-VOC and low-emission products and coatings. The SCAQMD is one organization that helps us do this.

SCAQMC Explained

The South Coast Air Quality Management District is the agency responsible for improving the air quality of certain districts in California. The SCAQMD enforces the following rules to regulate VOCs (volatile organic compounds):1


  • Rule 1113 – limits the amount of VOCs in architectural paints and coatings.2,3
  • Rule 1168 – requires rigorous VOC emission testing methods for adhesives and sealants. 10 An amendment of this rule specifies a variety of adhesives and sealants for architectural use, including foam insulation and foam sealant. 8

LEED adheres to SCAQMD rules as part of their certification standard.

Limiting VOCs in paints, coatings, and colorants

Rule 1113 is a standard for both coatings and colorants. Colorants are dyes or pigments used to color paints and often have unaccounted for VOCs. 7

Rule 1113’s regulations are beneficial for limiting antimicrobials, which have been misrepresented as conscious choices for infection control.5 The CDC has not reported evidence of disease prevention from antimicrobials. Antimicrobials are also defined PBTs: chemicals that are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic.11


Limiting VOCs in adhesives and sealants

Rule 1168 provides some of the tightest VOC regulations for adhesives and sealants, aiming to control the increase of ground-level ozone resulting from VOCs.9


The introduction of the SCAQMD as a regulatory agency has resulted in better air quality and a 25% reduction of ozone from the 1950s, despite the increase in cars and pollution levels. This progress in air quality is significant given the context of 3x more people and 4x more vehicles in California today than in the 50s.1


Try to apply the following SCAQMD rule 1113 and rule 1168 recommendations for paints, coatings, adhesives, and sealant products:


✓ Prefer paint without antimicrobials like Triclosan chemicals marketed for infection control. 5
✓ Choose water-based (latex) paint rather than oil-based paints. 5
✓ Prefer low-VOC coatings with the limitations listed in the Paint fact sheet.5
✓ Refer to this “Super-Compliant Architectural Coating” page for a list of industrial manufacturers with a VOC standard of less than 10g/L.4
✓ Prefer adhesives and sealants that are listed under a table of Rule 1168 compliant products. This Table also includes “super-compliant” products that meet VOC content of fewer than 25 grams per liter.6