What’s a VOC?
Close your eyes and try to conjure up that “new paint smell.” Got it? What you’re smelling are VOCs. VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compound, and refers any of the compounds traditionally added to paint to enhance the paint’s color, spreadability, adhesiveness, and resistance to fungus and insects. Unfortunately, many of these compounds are released into the air at room temperature, polluting your indoor air and causing major problems for those with chemical sensitivities, allergies, and respiratory illnesses. While VOCs used to be necessary to make paint, new technology has rendered them less and less essential. The result is the next generation of painting products.
All-Natural, No VOC, and Low VOC Paint
As the paint industry has responded to public demand for less polluting indoor paints, three main products have hit the shelves. Those products are all natural, no VOC, and low VOC paint. Each product contains a different level of VOCs, and has to meet a certain set of standards set by the EPA in order to claim the label. Here’s a quick breakdown of each, so you can choose the best product for you.
• All Natural Paint contains no VOCs and is composed entirely of natural ingredients. It is water based, reinforced with plant and animal oils and resins, and is colored with plant and mineral dyes. All natural paint has almost no smell to it, wet or dry, and is the healthiest choice when it comes to painting interior spaces.
• No VOC Paint contains less than 5 grams of VOCs per liter of paint, usually in the form of biocides, fungicides, or colorant. No VOC paint has almost no smell when wet, and none at all once it has dried.
• Low VOC Paint is required to have less than 200 grams of VOCs/liter. However, most manufacturers of low VOC paint strive to meet the Green Seal Standard, which guarantees them to have less than 50 grams of VOCs/liter. If low VOC emission is a priority for you, then it’s smart to search out, and pay a little bit extra, for paint that meets Green Seal Standards.