ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

A Healthier Dose of Protection: The Environmental Concerns on the Use of Waterborne Coatings

Updated on September 26, 2019
profile image

Phillro Industries is a family business that has been established as a specialist supplier of high quality, reliable coating equipment.

Everything we do is going to come back to bite us some day and that day might be much sooner than we think. Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report that states that more and more microplastics are found in the water we drink. It's still somewhat inconclusive on how they might impact our health but it's still a point of concern that we've now arrived at a point where we regularly consume plastics every day through water.

It's not just with plastics, from the greater prominence given to Sweden's Greta Thunberg and the recently concluded global climate strike, we're now more aware than ever on the destructive environmental impacts of our actions. This awareness has also seeped in to the coating industry where the use of waterborne coatings has slowly and steadily replaced other more environmentally harmful coatings. Coatings are one of the main sources for volatile organic compound (VOCs) emission and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) and the use of waterborne coatings go a long way on fixing that problem.

How coating impacts the environment

If you've ever tried house painting, you must've noticed how the average house paint carries a certain scent. That scent you smell is actually VOC emissions, gas emissions that are expelled from certain materials. VOCs are named so because they can easily vaporize even under normal temperature thanks to their high vapor pressure and are commonly found in the majority of solvent-based coatings available in the market although the amount of VOC emissions vary from one type of coating to another.

VOC emissions are most prominently found during the curing process which is why paints smell the strongest when they're still fresh. Once the paint has completely dried, the paint no longer emits VOC and is also the reason why you should always leave the window open when the painting is still wet. VOC emissions can cause dizziness in humans and they're also pegged as one of the causes for the depleting ozone layer which is why the use of coatings are heavily regulated by the government.

The only thing that separates VOCs and HAPs is that HAPs do not pose a risk to the ozone layer. HAPs still pose a risk to both humans and the environment but they're not as strictly regulated as VOCs. Other than emissions, coatings that regularly come into contact with water, ship coatings for example, also have to be designed in such a way that they possess no environmental dangers to the water. It's because of the above reasons that the industry needed a better alternative in the form of waterborne coatings.

An overview of waterborne coatings

Coatings are typically defined by the type of resin they're made of which is why it's common to see the word urethanes and epoxies be used to categorize a coating. While it's true that these resins have a sizable effect on deciding the properties and characteristics of a coating, the solvent used to give the coating its liquid properties also has a similar effect. In terms of solvent used, coatings can be broadly categorized into water-based solvents and chemical-based solvents and for this discussion; we'll be mostly focusing on the former.

Waterborne coatings, as their name implies, are coating that relies on water-based solvent as their liquifying agent. Technically, both water-based solvents and chemical-based solvents both contain water but with vastly different amounts. Water-based solvents typically contain water by as much as 80% in terms of volume with the rest consisting of chemicals such as alcohol. As a result, coatings with water-based solvents typically have less viscosity than coatings with chemical-based solvents. This means that coating thickness might be more of an issue with waterborne coatings, requiring the use of gauges such as Elcometer 480 during the application process.

The benefits and challenges of waterborne coatings

The main advantage of using waterborne coatings is that because of their chemical composition, they emit considerably less emissions. With stricter environmental restrictions placed by the government on businesses all over the world, waterborne coatings have turned into something that's nice to have into an essential need. The small amount of emissions also mean that businesses don't need to prepare as many health and safety precautions as usual, reducing operational costs and difficulties across the board.

However, waterborne coatings also raise some difficulties as water-based solvents are considerably more sensitive to the environment during the application process. Factors such as temperature and humidity can easily affect the curing time for waterborne coatings, making them somewhat less versatile than chemical-based solvents. This can be remedied by reducing the amount of water in the solvent or by adding additives but that would lessen the benefits of waterborne coatings. It should also be noted that water is actually one of the main catalysts for corrosion, requiring the use of a primer coat to prevent direct contact with metallic substrates or by using a formulation that ensures the water would be pulled to the top of the coating.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)