Measuring VOCs Now Possible


A standard test method approved by ASTM measures volatile organic compounds in metalworking fluids and rust inhibitors, a development with widespread ramifications for the lubricants industry.

ASTM test method E 1868-10 was developed to determine compliance with CaliforniasSouth Coast Air Quality Management District Rule 1144, and is now the only accepted method. The rule, which aims to reduce VOC emissions from metalworking fluids and rust inhibitors, applies to all industrial users of the products in Californias Orange County and in the urban portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernadino Counties, and to the fluid manufacturers and marketers who supply them.

But Houghton International Director of Engineering Services John Burke emphasized that the test methods availability has global impacts. Burke gave a presentation on VOC regulation, measurement and industry impact during a Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers webinar Friday.

Burke pointed out that the SCAQMD is a huge manufacturing area. A lot of lubricants are going to be in there, and a lot of lubricants are going to be tested, Burke told Lube Report. So if youre preparing an MSDS sheet and you intend to sell this product in California, how can you not label that product? Once you declare it to be a VOC and youve got a valid test method, its a VOC everywhere on the planet.

He explained that a company could no longer justify claiming it had no VOCs in its semi-volatile materials such as lubricants and rust inhibitors. Before this you could honestly make the argument there is no test method, and therefore if theres no test method, you can really declare a product to be no-VOC. You cant say that anymore.

Burke also noted the first impact will be on people conducting their annual emissions inventory. If you run a manufacturing plant, you have to add up all your VOCs at the end of the year, and report them as an emission, he observed. For the most part, people didnt report any emissions from metalworking fluids because there was no test method.

The SCAQMD had considered standard industry test methods such as U.S. EPA Reference Method 24, and a test called Method 313 (determination of VOC by gas chromatograph/flame ionization detector), but both gave varying, inconsistent results. A need grew for a new test method to measure VOCs in lubricants or rust and corrosion inhibitors.

The test method approved by ASTM in July relies instead on thermogravimetric analysis. It was proposed by the Independent Lubricant Manufacturers Association as a more reliable and efficient method. Burke said the method is more accurate because it uses an extremely sensitive oven that is weighing constantly. The testing is performed on samples to determine changes in weight in relation to change in temperature.

The E 1868-10 final standard became available at the ASTM web site earlier this month, at

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