Updated: Apr 21, 2020
WHAT'S GOING ON YOUR WALLS?
You might not be giving a second thought to the paint you are selecting for your home aside from the shade or color; however, it is important to understand what your paint is made of and to make sure that what your using in your home is safe for your health.
More and more companies are now producing “Low-VOC” or “Non-VOC” paints, but we should become aware of what these labels mean and how it can help us be more conscious consumers as well.
WHAT IS VOC?
VOC is short for volatile organic compound. This simply means that the paint contains chemical liquids that evaporate at room temperature, and have measurable negative effects on human and pet health alike. These toxins can cause symptoms can include irritation to your airways, headaches, nausea, and even damage to the liver, kidneys, or central nervous system.
Walls and ceilings are roughly 70% of your interior and VOCs partially contribute to that “fresh paint” smell. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has identified paints to be a major contributor to VOCs inside our homes and in the environment. These unstable chemical compounds excrete toxic gases that make contact with the air and adds to the existing pollution levels and increasing urban smog. The concentration of VOCs is often up to 10 times higher in indoor air than outdoor air, so you should try to avoid them whenever you can.
Paints with no VOCs have no volatile organic compounds in them. When you combine non-VOC paint with recyclable or biodegradable materials, you are still able recycle or compost them.
Nonetheless, it is important to note that even non-VOC paints can contain other harmful additives, solvents, and toxins. Sometimes even the paint tinting process adds VOCs.
Big-name brands have released non-VOC lines to appease conscious consumers, but there are many other great alternatives that are replacing older formulas. Brands like Colorhouse use recycled packaging, are Green Wise certified, and are transparent with their ingredient information. There are plenty of nontoxic, organic paint brands that use plant roil, milk casein, natural latex, and many other base materials that have low environmental impact and waste as well.
Low-VOC paints have reduced amounts of volatile organic compounds and they give off less harmful chemicals than regular VOC paints. It's important to remember that it still contains these chemicals and there are no EPA policies that regulate what the definition of “low” means. Until recently, the EPA standards allowed companies to label paints with less than 5g/L of VOCs could be labeled “zero VOC”. As a consumer, it is important to be educated and aware of the companies you are buying from and ask questions about the products they are selling.
With all this being said, if you're still unsure about which brand has the least harmful environmental impact, ask our team or an expert at your local paint store.
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