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The Ultimate Guide to Safe Paints

The Ultimate Guide to Safe Paints

Did you know that even after paint dries, it can continue to emit VOCs? That’s right. According to the CPSC, formaldehyde can be detected 1-3 months after painting. So, it makes sense to use safe paints and stains that don’t emit harmful VOCs.

Get a new perspective on safe paints and learn why paint fumes are dangerous and how to shop for the safest alternatives. You may be surprised to learn that many of these safe paints are available at your local hardware store.

Let’s start with the basics about paint fumes.

Are Paint Fumes Dangerous?

Paints can release chemicals that are carcinogens, reproductive toxins, or ozone depleting compounds.

Conventional paints give off volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These VOCs released into the air can cause immediate problems like eye and throat or lung irritation, headaches, dizziness, and vision problems.

And, the chemicals can cause longer term problems. Some chemicals cause cancer or reproductive and developmental effects in laboratory animals.

It’s a troubling thought, isn’t it?

Are Safe Paints Available?

Safe paints are available. You just need to know which ones to buy.

You can find safe interior and exterior paints, primers, and stains without too much effort. But, first, you should understand some facts about paint and VOCs.

Three Quick Facts About Paint & VOCs

It’s pretty simple.

You only need to know three facts to keep yourself safe.

1. Low VOC paints actually have a lot of VOCs.

<<< Don’t buy low VOC paints.>>>

2. Zero VOC paints have 5 grams/liter or less of VOCs, but these paints may include other chemicals that simply aren’t good for you.

<<< Look for Zero VOC and the Green Seal 11 -2008 certification.>>>

3. It’s not just about the odor.

<<< Paint releases VOCs long after the paint is dry and you can no longer smell the odor.>>>

What’s so important about the Green Seal 11 certification?

The Green Seal certification will make sure that your paint has none of the following bad guys that can still be found in some Zero VOC paints.

  • carcinogens
  • reproductive toxins
  • mutagens
  • hazardous air pollutants
  • ozone depleting compounds

The Best Zero VOC Paints

If you want to buy Zero VOC paint locally, you’re in luck. Many hardware stores carry Benjamin Moore Natura™ and Aura™. These paints are Zero VOC as well as Green Seal 11 certified. If you need to do touch up painting over conventional paints, it isn’t a problem to match the color.

Another option is to use paints made from natural raw ingredients like water, plant oils, plant dyes, clay, milk protein, bees’ wax, earth and mineral dyes. These types of paints are some of the safest you can use. Try the websites listed below to order these paints.

Look into ECOS Paints – While not green seal certified, they publish their testing documents on their website, and they are a leader in VOC-free, organic paints.

What if you Need an Oil-Based Paint?

If you need to paint over oil-based or alkyd paint, you’ll have to opt for a Low VOC paint. Try Benjamin Moore  ADVANCE® Waterborne Interior Alkyd line of waterborne alkyd paints. While it is not a Zero VOC paint, it is Low VOC (less than 50 g/l  compared to Zero VOC of 5 g/l).

Unfortunately, you cannot find Zero VOC alkyd paints, so if you must paint over oil-based enamel paint, then you’ll have to focus on good ventilation or the use of an air purifier equipped with a carbon filter.

Zero VOC Stains & Polyurethane

Conventional wood stains and polyurethane should also be avoided when possible. Ecos Paints offers Zero VOC wood stains as well as non-toxic polyurethane.

One last tip!

Remember to opt for Zero VOC primer.

So, now you’re informed with the facts about safe paints. You can paint your nursery, children’s rooms or any room in your house confidently knowing that you’re using the best non-toxic, zero VOC paints.