If you are planning to work on your home this spring, you are more than likely going to apply paint to complete the project. Considering the health of yourself and family as well as the planet, Non Toxic Paint or No V.O.C. Paint is a smart way to go. But why would you choose non-toxic paints versus conventional paints for y0ur home? Let’s find out.
To start, let me explain the acronym V.O.C.; Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs for short, refers to the mixture of chemicals manufacturers use to produce conventional paint. More than 10,000 chemicals can be used in conventional household paint, 300 of these chemicals are known toxins and over 150 have been linked to cancer. VOCs are chemicals that become breathable gases, and last long after the paint has dried. Most conventional paints include petrochemicals, ethylene glycol, cadmium and chromium. Paints also commonly contain benzene, toluene, vinyl chloride, formaldehyde, ethyl and mercury. VOCs are carbon containing compounds that vaporize into the air before, during and after applying them to a surface. Have you ever painted a room inside your home and had your eyes water, or get a headache? VOCs are what cause this.
So why do manufacturers choose to use these volatile organic compounds that are known toxins, and then sell it to you without warning? Well for years VOCs were considered to be essential to well performing paint. Putting aside the health effects for better paint, VOCs are heavily relied upon in the solvent component of paint, allowing for fewer coats to get great coverage. In defense of conventional paint, the amount of VOCs contained in a can is clearly printed on the back, but unless you knew that already, there is no other warning.
According to the EPA, exposure to VOCs can potentially cause; eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches, loss of coordination, nausea; damage to liver, kidney, and central nervous system. Some organics can cause cancer in animals; some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans. Key signs or symptoms associated with exposure to VOCs include conjunctival irritation, nose and throat discomfort, headache, allergic skin reaction, dyspnea, declines in serum cholinesterase levels, nausea, emesis, epistaxis, fatigue, and dizziness.
Now that we know what conventional paint contains, lets talk about alternatives.
Non Toxic Paint – Low VOC and No VOC
To delineate Low VOC and No VOC: The term “low VOC” paint has been applied to paints having a wide range of VOCs from 50 g/L to as much as 250 g/L. The term “zero or no VOC” paint applies to paints that have < 5 g/L of VOC. That’s grams per liter if you were wondering. Something to remember when considering Low VOC paint is the numbers cited on the paint can are measurements taken before the paint’s pigment or any additives are added, both of which can contribute more VOCs.
Low VOC paints are a much better alternative to conventional paint, as they do a great deal in reducing the amount of toxins released into the air of your home. If you truly want to go all the way, no VOC paint is the best option.
No VOC paint, if you will excuse the phrase, is the holy grail of paint to date. No toxic chemicals, very low odor and some using proprietary methods to increase performance are contributing a great deal to having a toxin free home and planet while maintaining a great look. Specialty manufacturers such as Yolo Colorhouse have come about specifically to produce No VOC only paints, and are taking the market by storm. Before you think that it is comes also with a specialty price tag as well, think again. A gallon of No VOC Yolo at Maine Green Building Supply is less than a gallon of Benjamin Moore Low VOC at the local dealer. There are other great manufacturers of No VOC paints that are quite easy to find. Type into Google, “No VOC Paint or Non Toxic Paint” and you will get a very long list.
As a final note, no matter what type of paint you choose;
- It is always good measure to properly ventilate the area where you are painting
- Wear eye protection
- Properly dispose of unused paint
- Keep young children away from open cans and paint trays
- Have fun! Painting is an easy way to make major changes to your home.