The effect of wet film thickness on VOC emissions from a finishing varnish

Shun Cheng Lee, Ngai Hong Kwok, Hai Guo, Wing Tat Hung

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Finishing varnishes, a typical type of oil-based varnishes, are widely used to shine metal, wood trim and cabinet surfaces in Hong Kong. The influence of wet film thickness on volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from a finishing varnish was studied in an environmental test chamber. The varnish was applied on an aluminium foil with three different wet film thickness (35.2, 69.9 and 107.3 μm). The experimental conditions were 25.0 °C, 50.0% relative humidity (RH) with an air exchange rate of 0.5 h-1. The concentrations of the major VOCs were monitored for the first 10 h. The air samples were collected by canisters and analysed by gas chromatography/mass selective detector (GC/MSD). Six major VOCs including toluene, chlorobenzene, ethylbenzene, m,p-xylene, o-xylene and 1,3,5-trimethylbenzene were identified and quantified. Marked differences were observed for three different film thicknesses. VOC concentrations increased rapidly during the first few hours and then decreased as the emission rates declined. The thicker the wet film, the higher the VOC emissions. A model expression included an exponentially decreasing emission rate of varnish film. The concentration and time data measured in the chamber were used to determine the parameters of empirical emission rate model. The present work confirmed that the film thickness of varnish influenced markedly the concentrations and emissions of VOCs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-84
Number of pages10
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2003


  • Building materials
  • Environmental chamber
  • Modeling
  • Thickness
  • Varnish
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Wet film

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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