Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Aesthetically Displeased: Toxic Painting and How to Avoid Self-Exposure

Our living rooms, children's bedrooms and the rooms in which we eat are being remodeled, refurnished and renovated all the time. While these processes succeed in changing our homes to make them more attractive, it also succeeds in contributing to the toxic environment in which we live.

Volatile organic compounds(VOCs) that are found in many materials in our homes are detrimental to our health and the health of our families. Treated wood paneling and flooring, carpet backing, treated fabrics, plastics and paints all contain chemicals that contribute to the pollution of the air that we breath. While the link between VOC's and adverse health aspects isn't as clear as cigarette smoking and lung disease, there is a large body of research that supports the relationship between poor indoor air quality and upper-respiratory difficulties and bronchial concerns.

The average American family re-paints their homes approximately every 2.5 years. The common house paint contains greater the five grams per liter(> 5 g/L) of VOC's that can off-gas after the paint has dried. This means that over a 20-year period, homes are being filled with fumes about eight times from paint alone. While everyone needs a change of color from time to time, there are alternatives that can be used to reduce or even eliminate the amount of VOC exposure as a result of off-gas from paint. Currently, there are a number of companies that are producing low-VOC and VOC-free paint. The EPA states that fresh paint is one of the largest contributing factors to poor indoor air quality, so by changing our remodeling behaviors by simply selecting a less-toxic paint, we can greatly reduce the level of VOCs in our homes.

Here are a few of a paint brands that are less toxic:

YOLO Colorhouse – An Oregon-based company that provides zero-VOC paint in a range of 92 colors. Their paints are water-based and Green Seal certified.

Green Planet Paints - Green Planet touts patent-pending, mineral-based paint that is low to zero VOC. Green Planet Paints have 48 standard colors and 120 mineral and clay-based paints.

Benjamin Moore Natura Paint – Natura paint is a high-quality, water-based paint that is
categorized as low to non-VOC. It is considered to be 100% colorless and can be found in virtually
any color.

Fortunately, there are a plethora of options for low or non-VOC paints. This is an easy way to greatly reduce one of the largest contributors to toxic indoor-air. Using some of these methods, we can have a healthy environment and colorful homes.

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