What is VOC Paint?
Posted Sep 12, 2022 by Dave Scaturro
These days most people understand the common dangers associated with painting - from fumes to spills and even lead. While hazards like lead paint have been banned since 1978, there are still concerns to be aware of in 2022 when choosing a paint for your interior or exterior.
In today’s world, we recommend that any painter - professional or amateur - look for paint that contains low or little volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), is LEED approved and is a green or environmentally friendly coating. These considerations will ensure your paint is not only safer for you, but the environment around you. Here are some key things to know when choosing your next coat of paint:
What are VOCs?
If you’re familiar with that new paint smell, you’re familiar with VOCs. They’re essentially invisible toxic compounds that can be dangerous to both people and the environment, especially if they are applied indoors. According to the EPA, prolonged exposure to VOCs, which can be found in thousands of popular products on the market, can cause serious health effects both short and long term ranging from eye and nose irritation to liver, kidney and nervous system damage.
How can I know the VOC level of the paint I’m purchasing?
Two separate ratings can help you understand the level of toxicity in paint: Green Seal Certified and Greenguard.
The first, Green Seal Certified, details the content of the compounds in the paint. The second, and perhaps more important, is the Greenguard label. This is the label to really look out for. It contains details about the level of harmful gas the compounds in the paint will produce and release. This is especially important if painting indoors where the natural ventilation of the outdoors isn’t as easily accessible.
Are all low VOC paints good options?
Not necessarily. Just because a label states that a paint has low VOCs doesn’t mean it’s the best choice. Rather than looking for low VOC paint, we recommend instead looking for labels that indicate low VOC emission. Identifying the Green Seal Certified and Greenguard labels can be an easy indicator as to whether a paint has a low VOC gas emission. Generally, low VOC emission paints are also lower in odor.
What are No VOC paints?
No VOC paints generally do not contain any volatile organic compounds. And, while many of them may still still contain harmful chemicals beyond VOCs, they can be a great option.
Whether you’re working with a contractor or DIY-ing your paint job, we recommend looking out for the following labels when researching paint:
- No or low VOC paint (aim for 50g/L or less)
- Green Seal Certified
- Look for the Greenguard label
- Non-toxic or natural
Ready for your next paint job or have questions about the type of paint to use? Contact Alpine! Our expert team of professionals is ready to help you find the safest paint options for your next paint job.