DIY





How to Choose Less-Toxic, Low-VOC Paints and Coatings


| 10/6/2011 10:18:35 AM



Most conventional paints and coatings contain and emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Some types of VOCs contribute to smog, and many VOCs are emitted or “offgassed” indoors and contribute to indoor air pollution. VOCs can cause respiratory problems and some are known carcinogens.

I have written a 4-page overview of VOCs and other toxicity issues related to paints and other types of coatings. For the free download, just click on this link:  

How to Select Less-Toxic, Low-VOC Paints, Primers, Stains, and Coatings [PDF, 120 KB]  

Fortunately, almost every major paint manufacturer (and retailer) now has a low-VOC or zero-VOC wall paint product line. Most of these products are also low-odor, as some VOCs are responsible for to that noxious “new paint smell.”

SafecoatI maintain an online product listing of Low-VOC and Zero-VOC Wall Paints, which I recently updated. Most paint products on the market are synthetic (e.g., latex/acrylic/vinyl) paints. But my listing also includes natural paints  (i.e., plant- or mineral-based, non-synthetic paints).

A few paint manufacturers, such as AFM Safecoat and YOLO Colorhouse formulate their entire line of paints and primers to be low- or zero-VOC and low-toxic. While most low-VOC paints are interior paints, some brands (including those two) also offer low-VOC exterior paints.



My listing indicates which paint lines have been Green Seal certified or SCS Indoor Advantage Gold certified. GreenGuard also certifies paints; it has a basic Indoor Air Quality Certified program, as well as a more stringent Children and Schools Certified program. All of these certification programs are primarily focused on testing products’ VOC emissions.  



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