There is often much more pollution inside of our homes compared to outside of them. This is often due to the paint that we use to paint our home’s walls. In order to cut down on harmful pollution from paint, we should opt for “green paint”. Green paint is paint that is either completely free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or contains very few of them. These VOCs are harmful to human beings as they transition from liquid and solid states into toxic gases.
As soon as conventional paint is applied, it begins to evaporate and emit VOCs. It will continue to evaporate for the next few months, albeit at lower levels. These harmful gases combine with the room’s oxygen and pollute the air that the room’s occupants breath. They are exposed to chemicals that can irritate the eyes, cause headaches, breathing problems, stomach aches and even harm internal organs like the kidneys and liver. VOCs are also thought to contribute towards cancer.
The VOCs are in the paint in order to make the paint stick to the wall and to keep the color’s pigment intact. Yet there are paints with low VOCs are no VOCs. These are known as green paints and should be used for all painting projects. Many companies offer these green paints at affordable prices. Yet paints with low VOCs are not precisely defined. The amount of VOC grams per liter differs by paint. Some paints will have 40 grams per liter while others will have 150. A non-profit organization called Green Seal has come up with a set of guidelines for VOC paint safety. Green Seal states that a flat topcoat of paint should have no more than 50 VOC grams per liter, a non-flat topcoat 100, primer or undercoat 100, floor paint 100, anti corrosive coating 250, reflective wall coating 50 and reflective roof coating 100. Paint cans with these low VOC amounts are marked with the Green Seal Standard also known as GS-11.
Instead of using petroleum solvents as a carrier, low VOC paints use water. The result is less harmful emissions, low levels of heavy metals and hardly any formaldehyde. Low VOC paints will still emit an odor like regular paints. Those who are extra sensitive can buy paint with less than 25 VOC grams per liter. A “no VOC” paint will have less than 5 VOC grams per liter. So it is not completely void of VOCs but contains an insignificant amount. The next time you have to paint your home or any other structure, opt for a low or no VOC paint to save not only your own health but that of your family, friends and the environment.