ASTM D3960 - 05(2013)

    Standard Practice for Determining Volatile Organic Compound (VOC)Content of Paints and Related Coatings

    Active Standard ASTM D3960 | Developed by Subcommittee: D01.21

    Book of Standards Volume: 06.01


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    ASTM D3960

    Significance and Use

    5.1 This practice discusses applicable ASTM test methods used in the determination of the VOC content of paints and related coatings and provides equations for calculating the VOC content expressed as the mass of VOC: (1) per unit volume of coating less water and exempt volatile compounds, and (2) per unit volume of coating solids and (3) per unit mass of coating solids.

    5.2 Volatile organic compound content is used to compare the amount of VOC released from different coatings used for the same application, that is, to coat the same area to the same dry film thickness (assuming the same application efficiency).

    5.3 VOC content data are required by various regulatory agencies.

    5.4 Only the expression of VOC content as a function of the volume of coating solids gives a linear measure of the difference in VOC released from different coatings used for the same application.

    Note 4Thus assuming the same transfer efficiency, a coating with VOC content of 3 lb of VOC/gal of solids would release 1/2 the VOC that would a coating with 6 lb of VOC/gal of solids.

    5.5 When VOC content is expressed as a function of the volume of coating less water and exempt solvents, the values obtained do not account for differences in the volume solids content of the coatings being compared: this expression, therefore, does not provide a linear measure of the difference in VOC emitted from different coatings used for the same application.

    Note 5Thus, a coating with VOC content of 3 lb of VOC/gal less water and exempt volatile compounds would release about 85 % less VOC than a coating with 6 lb of VOC/gal less water and exempt volatile compounds.

    1. Scope

    1.1 This practice measures the volatile organic compound (VOC) content of solventborne and waterborne paints and related coatings as determined from the quantity of material released from a sample under specified bake conditions and subtracting exempt volatile compounds and water if present.

    Note 1The regulatory definition, under the control of the U.S. EPA, can change. To ensure currency, contact the local air pollution control agency.

    1.2 This practice provides a guide to the selection of appropriate ASTM test methods for the determination of VOC content.

    1.3 Certain organic compounds that may be released under the specified bake conditions are not counted toward coating VOC content because they do not participate appreciably in atmospheric photochemical reactions. Such negligibly photochemically reactive compounds are referred to, as exempt volatile compounds in this practice.

    Note 2Information on the US EPA definition of VOC and a list of the current US EPA approved exempt volatile compounds which have been used in coatings, are provided in Appendix X3.

    1.4 VOC content is calculated as a function of (1) the volume of coating less water and exempt volatile compounds, and (2) the volume of coating solids, and (3) the weight of coating solids.

    1.5 The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as standard.

    1.6 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.


    2. Referenced Documents (purchase separately) The documents listed below are referenced within the subject standard but are not provided as part of the standard.

    ASTM Standards

    D1475 Test Method For Density of Liquid Coatings, Inks, and Related Products

    D2369 Test Method for Volatile Content of Coatings

    D2697 Test Method for Volume Nonvolatile Matter in Clear or Pigmented Coatings

    D2832 Guide for Determining Volatile and Nonvolatile Content of Paint and Related Coatings

    D3792 Test Method for Water Content of Coatings by Direct Injection Into a Gas Chromatograph

    D3925 Practice for Sampling Liquid Paints and Related Pigmented Coatings

    D4017 Test Method for Water in Paints and Paint Materials by Karl Fischer Method

    D4457 Test Method for Determination of Dichloromethane and 1,1,1-Trichloroethane in Paints and Coatings by Direct Injection into a Gas Chromatograph

    D5095 Test Method for Determination of the Nonvolatile Content in Silanes, Siloxanes and Silane-Siloxane Blends Used in Masonry Water Repellent Treatments

    D5201 Practice for Calculating Formulation Physical Constants of Paints and Coatings

    D5403 Test Methods for Volatile Content of Radiation Curable Materials

    D6093 Test Method for Percent Volume Nonvolatile Matter in Clear or Pigmented Coatings Using a Helium Gas Pycnometer

    D6133 Test Method for Acetone, p-Chlorobenzotrifluoride, Methyl Acetate or t-Butyl Acetate Content of Solventborne and Waterborne Paints, Coatings, Resins, and Raw Materials by Direct Injection Into a Gas Chromatograph

    D6419 Test Method for Volatile Content of Sheet-Fed and Coldset Web Offset Printing Inks

    D6438 Test Method for Acetone, Methyl Acetate, and Parachlorobenzotrifluoride Content of Paints, and Coatings by Solid Phase Microextraction-Gas Chromatography

    D6886 Test Method for Determination of the Individual Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in Air-Dry Coatings by Gas Chromatography

    E180 Practice for Determining the Precision of ASTM Methods for Analysis and Testing of Industrial and Specialty Chemicals


    ICS Code

    ICS Number Code 87.040 (Paints and varnishes)

    UNSPSC Code

    UNSPSC Code 31211500(Paints and primers)


    DOI: 10.1520/D3960

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