Paint and VOCs – What are VOCs?

VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are solvents that get released into the air as paint is applied to your walls and dries. VOCs are in many different every day household items, including carpeting, home furnishings, adhesives and cleaning supplies.

Why should I care about VOCs?

Paint and VOCs – Questions and AnswersReally there are two reasons. The first is that VOCs are harmful chemicals that effect our air, both indoors and out. To reduce our carbon footprints, we need to care more about the things we produce and the products we buy so we don’t continue to disrupt our world. And second, its not just the environment, its also your health. When harmful VOCs are trapped inside your home, they will ultimately have an effect on your overall health. They can cause basic health issues, such as headaches and dizziness. And when left for the long term, they can increase the chance of chronic illness, including asthma and even cancers.

Are low VOC paints the solution?

Yes, they are definitely a step in the right direction. However, take note that a paint that says low or no VOC can still have VOCs in them. The federal government caps the VOC content in paint at 250 grams per liter for flat finishes, and 380 grams per liter for other finishes. Those are government standards; some manufacturers have created their own policies and actually decreased the amount of VOCs even more. The only way to know VOC content is to read up on the product.

What about no VOC paints?

Yes, you can find paints that claim they are no VOC. But in many cases these paints will still have VOCs in them. Here’s why. Base paints often start out VOC free. But when any pigment is added at the point of sale, the VOC level can climb as high as 150 grams per liter. And because we all love to add color to our selections, your VOC levels will climb with it.

Anything else I should know about VOC paints?

Keep in mind that VOCs are in more than the paints. They can also be in the solutions you use to clean up after you paint. Remember, those harsh smells can mean harm to your health, so take care when using any products in and around your family.