Know "Low-VOC" and Your Green Painting Options
You've probably noticed the strong smell of a freshly painted room. The odors come from the VOCs that are in the paint. For decades, VOCs have been a key ingredient in the composition of latex and oil-based paints, solvents and varnishes. VOCs are also present in the following household items: wood preservatives, aerosol sprays, cleansers and disinfectants, moth repellents, air fresheners, stored fuels and automotive products, hobby supplies and even dry-cleaned clothing.
Prolonged exposure to these compounds can trigger asthma attacks and other respiratory problems, irritate eyes, cause nausea and dizziness. Extended exposure has also been linked to kidney and liver disease and even cancer. After traditional paint is applied to walls or other surfaces, it can "off-gas" VOCs for years.
In response to changing environmental regulations and consumer demand, many high-quality, low-VOC products, such as True Value EasyCare® latex primers and paints, are available for purchase at your local True Value hardware store. These alternatives are water-based and release fewer toxic fumes than traditional paints. What fumes they do produce dissipate more quickly than traditional paints. Low-VOC primers and paints are applied the same way as conventional primers and paints, and they cost about the same as most manufacturers' top-of-the-line paints. Because they are not deemed "hazardous waste," low-VOC paints can be cleaned and disposed of easily without the use of strong solvents.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) standard for paints and stains to be considered "low-VOC" is a maximum of 200 g/L of VOC content. True Value EasyCare® paints are among the lowest-VOC paints on the market, with 50 g/L of VOCs.
Your local True Value hardware store sells a number of eco-friendly painting tools and accessories, such as low-VOC stains and wood finishes, paint thinners and removers and paper drop cloths. True Value's EcoSmart line of products includes paint pails, paint tray liners and more.
Using low-VOC paints and green painting accessories and products is only one way to make your indoor air fresher and healthier. To be an environmentally conscious painter, be sure to remember the BUD rule — the first rule of environmentally conscious painters:
Buy no more product than you need.
Use the product you buy.
Dispose of leftovers in a safe, responsible manner.