University of Minnesota
Minnesota Technical Assistance Program

How to Reduce VOCs

VOCs can be reduced by making changes to manufacturing processes and heating equipment and through facility-wide opportunities such as reducing vehicle miles traveled, purchasing environmentally friendly supplies, and improving energy efficiency. Reduction methods depend very much on the specific process and use of VOCs, but some of the methods to reduce use and emissions include:

  • Substitute a different chemical:
    • A non-VOC (e.g. water for solvent; powder coating for paint)
    • Substitute a less volatile chemical so less evaporates (e.g. 140F flash mineral spirits for mineral spirits)
    • Substitute a less reactive chemical that contributes less to smog (e.g. alkanes for aromatics ) [this type of substitution needs to be done carefully]
  • Use less: use just enough; put chemicals precisely where they are needed
  • Use containers and applicators that fit the need (e.g. plunger cans; dispensers, pump bottles; re-fillable aerosols)
  • Use dry processes for stripping surfaces (e.g. abrasives; CO2 pellets)
  • Use solvent free or low solvent processes (e.g. UV cured paint; powder paint; hot-melt adhesives)
  • Use efficient processes and equipment (e.g. electrostatic painting; HVLP painting)
  • Change the soil to make cleaning easier (e.g. add surfactants to tough soils like grease or ink)
  • Use refillable aerosol containers to eliminate the propellant
  • Capture emissions (e.g. carbon absorption; sealed rag containers; spray gun cleaning solvent into a container rather than into air; store VOC liquids in sealed containers) [Note: the last three practices are required by law for VOC hazardous wastes]
  • In your personal life:
    • Take public transportation; walk and bike more (transportation accounts for 36% of all VOC emissions in MN)
    • Burn less wood, and if you burn wood do it cleanly – dry wood only; stoves are better than fireplaces are better than campfires /fire circles (residential wood burning accounts for 4% of all VOC emissions in MN)
    • Go fragrance–free or opt for products with lower odors and lower vapors (personal care products account for 1% of all VOC emissions in MN)




















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