Green living: Save Our Earth By Living Green

How to Know if the Paint You’re Using Is Eco-Friendly

There are a lot of ways to add character to your home. You can buy new furniture or paint your home a new color. Painting upgrades your home’s character and charm, but if your feeling of accomplishment is quickly placed by the need for fresh air, consider this: that noxious odor is coming from volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which can linger for days or even months.

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What Are VOCs?

Some of the chemicals found in paint, such as benzene and formaldehyde, are proven to cause respiratory issues and even certain types of cancer. They’re also known to cause irreparable damage to the ozone layer.

Although low-VOC paints have been around for some time, previous formulas didn’t spread evenly and weren’t as durable as conventional types of paint. Thankfully, finding paint that is free of VOCs is now easier than ever. Some companies offer clay and milk-based formulas, which cover beautifully without compromising your health or the environment. If you’re not sure how to find eco-friendly paint, no worries. Below is a list of things you to look for:

Know Your VOCs

Before you start painting, you need to know your VOCs. VOC stands for volatile organic compound, and it’s not something you want inside your home. Paint gives off VOCs upon application, so it’s important to choose a paint that meets all three of the better health requirements: natural pigments, low VOCs and low biocides. Keep in mind only meeting the requirement set forth by the EPA, which is no more than 250 grams per liter of VOCs in supposedly low-VOC paints is cutting it a little too close.

Interior Paints

Ask a paint specialist and they’ll probably tell you that natural paint and milk-based paint are the way to go. Natural paints are derived from eco-friendly compounds like balsam and citrus.

Although these paints are made with natural materials, it’s not uncommon for them to contain terpenes, which are a VOC derivative from plants. Milk paint, which is made with milk and lime is excellent for interiors and also gives wood a rich color, allowing the grain to show through slightly.

When painting interiors, latex paint with low biocide and VOC levels is another excellent choice. Latex is safer for the environment, but due to terpenes, it needs to be used with care.

Exterior Paints

All exterior paints contain fungicides, and unfortunately, low-biocide paints aren’t available for exteriors. When looking to spruce up your home’s exterior, look for paints made with zinc oxide as the fungicide. Paints that have zero to minuscule amounts of VOCs are also good choices, as are latex paints. Since oil-based paints are high in VOCs, it’s best to avoid using them. In addition, paint stored in old cans may contain lead or mercury. Contact a company like JPS Painting Specialists if you have questions.

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