Reducing Your Exposure To VOC in Paint

When it comes to remodeling, a new coat of paint is often something that you don’t even need to say.

It’s as good as a default that a dull looking room or the whole house will be getting a new cheerful color for a facelift.

If you conduct a simple renovation experiment by doing everything you want except applying a fresh new coat of paint, the final result might astound you. It can seem the improvements you have made have very little visual impact overall.

It is only with a new coat of paint that the design idea you had in your mind is brought to life!

While paint is very much an essential part of any renovation works, the problem is with the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOC) present in them.

VOC is one of the common air pollutants found in homes. They are potentially toxic chemicals that can cause adverse health.

Before the harms of VOCs went public, probably every can of paint contained exuberant amounts of VOC.

The good news is that in recent years, big name manufacturers have poured money in research and development to produce paint that addresses this fear.

Low or no VOC

While the big players in the industry are working overnight to conceptualize products that address the concerns of consumers, there are also a lot of manufacturers who continue to produce paint laden with VOCs.

Surely you have had the experience of smelling the odd scent of paint? That is a good example of VOC offgassing.

Yet don’t be tricked into thinking once the smell dissipates that the VOCs will be gone. This be because VOCs will continue to offgas for days, weeks, months, and even years.

If this is a concern to you, rest assured that it is pretty easy to manage this issue.

Because paint that contain low or no VOC are readily available in stores.

The problem is that most homeowners are still not aware of what types of harms VOC exposure can cause. This strongly contributes to how paint containing high VOCs levels are still selling like hotcakes.

Low VOC paints use water as a carrier base instead of petroleum-based solvents. This results in them containing very little potentially harmful substances like mercury, formaldehyde, cadmium, etc.

However, when you buy a can of low or no VOC paint, be mindful of what the label is referring to. This is because while the paint can contain very little VOC, the tint that creates the color could contain a lot.

This defeats the purpose of buying low VOC paint.

So remember to ask about the content of the tint as well and whether low-VOC labels refer to the paint only, or to the tint as well.

Milk as an alternative

Don’t worry. I’m not suggesting that you paint the house with milk. I’m not mad yet.

But one of the healthy-building trends going around these days is milk-based paint.

While milk-based paint is not a new technology, it has a growing demand due simply to homeowners who are more well-informed these days about the hazards building material can bring into the home.

This type of paint uses a combination of milk protein, lime and pigment to create paint that is surprisingly as durable as conventional paint.

However, the colors available can be limited.

Tips for less exposure

Don’t forget that VOCs do not just offgass from the walls. Paint that is sitting in a can stored in the garage will be contributing to the airborne pollutant level as well.

This is why unused paint should be properly disposed as soon as you finish with the paint job.

Don’t put yourself and your family members’ health in danger just so you can save a few bucks by keeping residual leftover paint in a store room.

During painting, take note to maintain high ventilation by opening the doors and windows so that the wind can play a part in carrying the VOCs away. And even after painting, doors and windows should be left open as much as it is practically possible. And for as long as possible.

Major brands tend to have their own range of low-VOC paints. So you probably don’t have to leave your favorite brands at all.

In many stores, staff can even mix a desirable color using low-VOC paint the tint.

And if you have a choice, choose latex paint over oil-based paint. The former is known to release fewer toxins.