Just about anyone who has ever picked up a paint brush is well aware of the common dangers that can be associated with painting. Contractors and home owners alike are conscious of the health and environmental concerns that have been linked to lead paint, which at a time not too long ago was immensely popular, but since 1978 has been largely banned because of its hazardous properties. Professional painting contractors should always have safety in mind as the number one priority on any job, They should be hyper aware of any potential dangers that may associated with the products they are purchasing and applying. As such, professionals in the industry know what to look for when choosing paint for a specific job, be it indoors or outdoors. However, the home owner who is not involved in the painting industry any more than the average person and only picks up brushes to do the inside or outside of their home may be unaware of a few crucial things to look for, besides a “lead free” label. One of these concerns that anyone buying a gallon of paint should be looking for is a label stating that paint has low or little VOC’s, is Leed approved and is a green or environmentally friendly coating.
But what exactly is a VOC, and why should the average consumer be conscious of the content of the VOC level in the paint that they are purchasing? Because these VOC’s, which are actually known as “volatile organic compounds,” can be dangerous to occupants and the environment, especially if they are being applied indoors. Prolonged exposure to these invisible toxic compounds, found in literally thousands of popular products on the market, can cause serious health effects, both short and long term. The EPA, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, lists a few of these health concerns on their website, which can range from a simple eye and nose irritation to very serious health problems such as liver, kidney and nervous system damage.
How can one determine the level of Volatile Organic Compounds in the paint they are about to purchase? There are two ratings to be conscious of, one that warrants a bit more attention than the other. What is known as a Green Seal Certified label will tell the consumer the content of the compounds in the paint being purchased. More importantly would be a label known as Greenguard. This Greenguard label is what the buyer should really be looking for on their paint, as it contains information about how much harmful gas the compounds in the paint will produce and subsequently release into the air. When painting indoors this is especially important, as the natural ventilation that occurs outdoors is obviously not available. However, it should also be noted that just because a label states that a certain paint has a low volatile organic compound content does not mean that this paint is necessarily a good option. Consumers should not look for low VOC or no VOC labels, but instead should look for labels that indicate low VOC gas emission, which is a very different animal. These paints that have low VOC emission also are low odor for the most part.
Not only are these low VOC options good for environmentally friendly coatings and paints, they are the first choice of many contractors and home and building owners alike due to the fact that they are a safer option for occupants. Indoor painting jobs done in buildings that have a lot of faces coming in and out each day, such as office buildings, schools or condominiums require careful attention to ensure occupants are not harmed by the contents of the structure. Paints with VOC contents can release these harmful gasses into the air, which in a confined space can be extremely harmful, especially in environments such as hospitals. For this reason, it is crucial that contractors and consumers are very conscious of what exactly they are buying and applying. Readers from NJ, NY, PA or CT that still have questions about the important of low-VOC paint or want a job done using this environmentally friendly type of paint can contact a local contractor such as Alpine Painting for more information, online or at 866-596-0349.
By: Dave Scaturro
Credit to: "Know the Truth About Low-VOC Paints." ProudGreenHome. 14 MAR 2013: n. page. Web. 26 Sep. 2013. <http://www.proudgreenhome.com/article/209839/Know-the-truth-about-low-VOC-paints>.