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Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive

by Ron Joseph

May, 2006

Urea as a VOC

Q. I saw the article on Vapor pressure and VOC on your website. I am trying to defend the stance that urea is not a VOC. EPA regulates urea as a VOC only if it is used/created in synthetic organic chemical manufacturing facilities (well that's what I came up with anyway). It has a vapor pressure of 1.21mm, so its barely volatile, and even so, I cannot find evidence that it is harmful if released in the atmosphere. Some states do not realize that and tend to consider it a VOC. Have you ever run into this, and do you have any advice?

A. According to the EPA definition, ANY organic compound is a "VOC" if it evaporates or partially evaporates when tested per EPA Method 24. In the distant past a VP of 0.1 mm Hg was the cut off, therefore a VP of 1.2 mm Hg is well above the original cut-off. Since urea is not listed as an exempt VOC, I believe that you might have no choice but to consider it a VOC. Please confirm this with the EPA or state agencies.

Best wishes,

Ron Joseph

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