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SMARTER PAINT ALTERNATIVES

A number of paint companies have begun making better, non-synthetic paints. Natural paints, for example,are made with citrus-oil solvents rather than petrochemicals. They get their colors from minerals and clays, notthe heavy metals like cadmium that other paints contain.They also don't have the toxic fungicides, mildewcides,and preservatives that the synthetic paints contain.

Two German companies, Auro and Eco Design (formerly Livos), are good sources at natural paints. EcoDesign uses natural ingredients to make everything fromoil- and water-based paints and varnishes to woodstains, shellacs, glues, soaps, cleansers, and productsfor furniture and leather care.

If you don't want chemicals or plastics in your paint, you also can go far a casein (milk eneyme) emulsion andlimewash or distemper. There is something you shouldknow about natural paints. They contain different ingredients than their synthetic counterparts and may have differevt application needs. Be certain toread the directions before using them.

Also, be careful when yo're shopping for paints. Some paints may say that they are low-odor, but they maynot be free of toxic solvents. Even though a paint says that it's made out of natural products, read theingredients. Although it uses natural oils and ingredients, one European company's paints have high VOCs and odor.

Kurfees, one U.S. company, makes a popular hypo-allergenic, latex paint. It has almost no VOCs, nearly no odor, and has a high scrubability. Safecoat also makes a good paint; white more expensive, it is considered one of the best for those with high chemical sensitivity.

A few paint companies, including the Green PaintCompany, Rasmussen Paints, Major Paint Company,and E Coat use discarded paints to make variousshades of whites, browns, grays, and other colors.

Skanvahr, a company based in Washington State,makes wood floor and cabinet varnishes. These varnishes have a low VOC content and little odor, rapidyoffgas, and are said to be of high guality.

If you need to use paint stripper, be sure that you findone made without dichloromethane, or caustic soda,and that is low-VOC. One brand, Citrus Strip, is synthetic, hut it has no methyl chlorides.

As far as paint thinners go, pure turpentine is safer than many other types. Thinners made with citrus oils tend to be good since they can be produced without pesticides and tend to dry more quickly than other alternatives; they clean brushes, too. Citrus paint thinners are gond alternatives for those sensitive to turpentine. Written by: Sustainable Development International Corp.


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