image by stevendepolo

When it’s time spruce up your house with a fresh coat of paint, you need to be aware of the VOCs (volatile organic compounds).  According to the EPA, the air inside a home is at least two-to-five-times more polluted than the air outside. Paint is a large contributing factor to poor indoor air quality and can emit harmful chemicals, such as VOCs, for years after application. Volatile organic compounds are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids and include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. According to the American Lung Association, studies suggest an increased prevalence of respiratory problems consistent with higher VOC levels in freshly painted homes.

Fortunately today zero or low VOC paints are easy to find.  Zero VOC paints cost a little more, but are the safest choice.  Low VOC paints are comparable in price to regular paint and most of the big manufacturers like Benjamin Moore carry them.   Home Depot carries a truly non-toxic paint called Freshaire Choice, which is one of the first to have zero VOC tints.   Often paint may be low VOC, but VOCs are added back into the paint once the color is mixed.

The EPA is proposing new VOC level regulations and many states have already lowered the allowable VOC levels for paints.   When painting, make sure there is plenty of ventilation and don’t keep unused or little used containers around.  Dispose of them safely.  Better yet, try to buy in quantities that you will use.  And, it’s a good idea to air out your house a couple days every season whether you are painting or not.


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