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Note 16: Local air quality

Air monitoring around our operations is focused on volatile organic compound (VOC) and NOx and SOx emissions. We monitor particulates at site level as required.

Volatile organic compounds (VOC)

VOC emissions from our manufacturing operations may lead to local low-level ozone creation, smog formation and associated health problems for people in surrounding areas. All our businesses will continue to manage VOC emissions from sites, in line with regional legal requirements. The VOC reduction focus for our paints and coatings businesses is increasingly concentrating on low/zero VOC product design, rather than only controlling VOCs in our operations. Reducing VOC emissions from our sites remains part of the scope of our OEE program, while our Research, Development and Innovation groups are working on projects to reduce the solvent content of our products – VOC in product. (See Note 12 in this section).

VOC emissions per ton of production stayed flat at 0.19 kg/ton (2011: 0.19 kg/ton). Total VOC emissions remained flat at 3.6 kilotons (2011: 3.6 kilotons), primarily because acquisitions offset improvements made at many sites. Focused investigation at these acquisition sites and continued OEE program activities will keep us on target to achieve our ambitions.

Volatile organic compounds
in kilotons

Volatile organic compounds in kilotons (bar chart)

VOC emissions may lead to local low level ozone creation, smog formation and associated local health issues. We measure halogenated and non-halogenated organic compounds discharged to air.

NOx and SOx

NOx and SOx emissions may have a significant impact on local air quality because of their contribution to acidification. Therefore, these compounds are monitored.

  • SOx emissions (from process emissions and energy) per ton of production were stable at 0.41 kg/ton of production (2011: 0.41 kg/ton). Absolute emissions were down 2 percent at 7.6 kilotons (2011: 7.7 kilotons). The emissions per ton for the three sulfur derivatives plants in Germany, the US and Argentina were down, while our Pakistan operation also improved
  • NOx emissions from our sites per ton of production were down 6 percent at 0.10 kg/ton (2011: 0.11 kg/ton). Total emissions were down at 1.9 kilotons (2011: 2.0 kilotons)

Ozone depleting substances

Emissions of ozone depleting substances are at a very low level (2012: 1.75 tons). They are mainly due to Freon22 in older air conditioning and cooling units, which are continuously being replaced (for example in Huron, where an old chiller was replaced by a state-of-the-art model).

NOx and SOx emissions










in kilotons









Emissions may form acid rain that can lead to acidification. The gases are emissions from manufacturing and combustion of fuel that we burn. The total quantitiy of NOx/SOx emissions from manufacturing processes discharged directly to air (e.g. after any abatement process) and the quantity of NOx/SOx emissions calculated from the use of fuels.










NOx kg/ton


















SOx kg/ton









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