5 SHOCKING SECRETS ABOUT
MOST ECO-FRIENDLY PAINTS
Secret 1: Eco-friendly marketing claims for paints are almost entirely unregulated.
All those "green" certifications that are popping up all over the place are mostly self-awarded or from independent groups with independent ideas of what defines an eco-friendly paint. Oftentimes that definition may not be what you assume, so you have to do some digging to find out what’s behind those labels.
Secret 2: No-VOC and zero-VOC paints can still contain VOCs.
A conventional can of flat interior latex paint contains about 150 grams per liter of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Low-VOC is usually 50 g/l or less and no-VOC (also called zero-VOC), despite the implications, can still contain 5 g/l of specific VOCs.
Secret 3: VOC labeling only applies to some VOCs.
VOC content regulations were developed to help reduce outdoor VOC emissions that contribute to the formation of ground ozone and smog. They were not developed to reduce indoor VOC emissions or chemical exposure to building occupants. Since not all VOCs contribute to ozone and smog formation, “low-VOC” or “no-VOC” products may still contain toxic VOCs that can off-gas into the indoor environment (like formaldehyde!)
Secret 4: The paint color can “hide” VOCs.
Even if you invest in low or no-VOC paint, if you’re adding a conventional color tint, you’re likely defeating your intentions. Typical colorants used to tint paint can be much higher in VOCs and can bump your VOC levels right back up to 100 g/L or more. (FYI – Darker colors tend to have higher VOC levels.)
Secret 5: VOC content and VOC emissions can be vastly different.
Testing shows that VOC content doesn’t exactly correlate to VOC emissions. (Yes – it’s confusing.) The “Paint Volatile Organic Compound Emissions and Volatile Organic Compound Content Comparison Study” conducted by the Underwriter’s Laboratory found that oftentimes paints with less VOC content had more VOC emissions and vice versa. There was no way to predict from what was in the paint, what mind end up in the air.
According to the study, “the results demonstrate that paint VOC content should not be used as a proxy for paint VOC emissions into indoor air, as there is no correlation between the two measures. These results demonstrate that low VOC content is not necessarily indicative of acceptable VOC emissions for specific compounds with known health impacts. Thus, building designers, owners and operators,or occupants may be provided a false sense of security regarding the quality of the indoor air.” What can you do?
Given the fact that most companies have taken advantage of the lack of oversight and regulation and perpetuate marketing messages that blur the truth, you really need to do your research before buying any paint.
For both the paint and the color tint, ask the manufacturer for the MSDS (or get it off the web), which should identify the ingredients, so you can identify any of concern that may not fall under federal VOC regulations.
In regards to eco-friendly claims, find out what the company (or the independent certifying body) means when they say they’re “green” and choose a company that aligns with your values.
Ecos Paints is the world’s No.1 manufacturer of totally non-toxic paints and varnishes. Their water based, zero-VOC paints are actually 12,500 times purer than standard no-VOC paints (that’s a fact!) In addition, Ecos uses containers which are 100% post-consumer recycled, and 100% recyclable and their shipping boxes are also recycled and recyclable. They use recycled materials wherever possible and recycle whatever they can (even their processing water).
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