Low VOC Paint
Snapshot & Benefits:
low- or no-VOC "volatile organic compound" paints have a lower odor and less
impact on air quality than higher VOC-content paints, they are excellent for use
in buildings where it is desirable to maintain good indoor air quality, such as
hospitals, schools, homes and workplaces.
Recent EPA studies estimate indoor air quality to be 3 to 5 times more toxic
than outdoor air largely caused by toxic emissions of paints and finishes. Paint
manufacturers realized the need to develop paint that contains lower VOC yet
maintain high levels of performance and durability ultimately causing less of an
impact on air quality then the higher VOC paints.
The use of low-VOC paint reduces toxins that cause allergy and chemical
sensitivities, reduces contaminant concentrations in landfill, groundwater and
the ozone, provides easy cleanup with soap and water and produces lower odor.
With increased legislation and support from environmentally conscious
organizations such as the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and
Environmental Design (LEED) and Green Seal plus advances in paint technology the
paint industry has come a long way in developing an array of environmentally
responsible products with higher performance levels. New paints have become more
durable, cost-effective and less harmful to humans and the environment.
Estimated Cost Savings
no-VOC paints typically cost about the same as a manufacturer's premium line of
paints (around $30 per gallon) however, it
is important to remember that high-performance paint typically will cost more in
the beginning but in the long run "could be the difference between painting once
and painting 4 to 5 times in 20 years."
Consider paying the extra cost of buying a high-performance, low-VOC paint as
you may not have to apply more than one coat to the surface area greatly
reducing your time and overall expense.
"Choosing non-toxic, low-VOC paints in office buildings, schools and hospitals
has helped maintain normal productivity within these environments which would be
entirely impractical for the occupants to vacate even for short periods of time
during a painting project."
Because of the way low VOC paints are labeled, how they are used, and how they
are marketed it can be difficult for the consumer to determine whether a paint
is truly a low VOC paint or not. For example, some paints are labeled "low-odor
or something else as apposed to low VOC." Some low VOC paint brands market
themselves as Green Seal certified while others who meet certain LEED standards
do not have to adhere to the Green Seal requirements. Consumers are often
confused as to what standards to follow when it comes to lower VOC paint.
to the EPA no
national standards have been set for VOCs in non industrial settings.
Past efforts have been made by organizations such as
Ozone Transport Commission (OTC), to adopt a national low-VOC level in all
paint products. California state requirements that mandate low VOC levels has
become the model for the national legislation and has been adopted by many
states across several regions.
Installation (Getting It Done)
never been a better time to buy environmentally responsible products," says Mark Petruzzi, Vice President of Green Seal.
"It's a lot easier to be green now. If
you've tried green in the past, give it a fresh look. It can lead to happier and
more productive workers and occupants."
who are particularly sensitive, or have strong concerns about air quality, most
major manufacturers now offer special no-VOC paints that are odorless and
can take additional precautions to lower the VOC levels in their homes and their
overall exposure to harmful compounds.
Increase ventilation when using products that emit VOCs,
Try to buy products that contain VOCs in quantities that can be used
Use products only according to manufacturer's directions,
Adhere to all product warnings,
Dispose of products containing VOCs properly.
Videos On This Topic:
"Green Paint" Is More Than Just a Color Choice (2:43) - Service Magic -
looking to repaint a home, it is important to look for low VOC (Volatile Organic
Compounds) paint to avoid harmful toxins. In this video, find out more about
what VOC means and how making smart paint choices can have a big impact on your
On This Topic:
facilitiesnet: Low-VOC Paints Are More Than Just 'Green'
eartheasy: Non-Toxic Paints
California EPA Air Resources Board: Consumer Products Program
U.S. EPA Indoor Air Quality: Organic Gases (VOCs)