With such emphasis on indoor air quality these days, we are receiving more and more inquiries for environmentally safe paint options that are also less harmful to us humans. Naturally, the team at 360 Painting Minneapolis is concerned for our environment and the health of our customers so we thought we would share our knowledge with you.
Currently, the two options available on the market today are labeled either "Low VOC" or "No VOC." Ok, so you are wondering “what does that mean exactly”? Well, let us tell you about it.
What exactly is VOC?
VOC stands for "volatile organic compound." VOCs are found in many building materials and are partially responsible for that new paint smell. Unfortunately, these unstable chemicals let off gasses that are very harmful to people and the environment, which is why the Environmental Protection Agency now regulates them. Learn more at: https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/technical-overview-volatile-organic-compounds
Since VOCs are found in paints, and we usually layer on 2 or more coats of paint, they can build up quite a bit in the home. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), "studies have found that levels of several organics average two to five times higher indoors than outdoors."
Without proper ventilation when applying paint products, VOCs can contribute to several health problems, including irritation to your airways, headaches, nausea, and even damage to the liver, kidneys, or central nervous system.1 Due to this, it is best to use products with minimal amounts of VOCs whenever possible.
More about Low VOC:
Low VOC paints have reduced amounts of the above mentioned volatile organic compounds, meaning they do not give off as much gas as traditional paints. It is important to remember that when it says "low" it is only in comparison to some other paints. There are no standards that define what "low" means, so the labels are arbitrary, at best.
Paints that have a low VOC option include Behr, Farrow & Ball, and Para. However, this is not an extensive list because some paint companies offer low VOC options as well.
And a little more about No VOC:
Paints with no VOCs have no volatile organic compounds in them. That's not to say they don't contain any harmful chemicals, though. In fact, the paint tinting process can sometimes add some VOCs. That said, these are still a great option.
Brands that have no VOC options include AFM Safecoat, Behr, Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams, and Yolo Colorhouse. Again, other brands make non-toxic paints too.
Find the Least Toxic Paint:
When buying paint, look for paints that are labeled "non-toxic" or "natural." Read the label to ensure they contain no extra solvents or additives and check for 5g/L or less of VOCs.
If you're still not sure about which brand is best, ask an expert at your local paint store. Many eco-friendly paints are making their way onto the market, including recycled paint, milk paint, and plant- or mineral-based paints. Be sure to check out these alternatives before buying.
Might we suggest:
1. Benjamin Moore Aura (which can be found at Hirschfield’s)
Zero VOCs, low odor, and mildew resistant properties make this line from Benjamin Moore a great selection when choosing a non-toxic interior paint. The formula is easy to apply, and its low odor means you’ll have no trouble breathing during and after your paint job.
2. Sherwin-Williams Harmony Zero VOC Interior Acrylic Latex Paint
This particular paint from Sherwin-Williams can reduce common indoor odors and features antimicrobial agents that prevent mold and mildew growth. Harmony also has formaldehyde-reducing capabilities that can reduce VOCs from other sources in your home, like insulation, carpet, cabinets, and fabrics.