Indoor air is three times more polluted than outdoor air, and according to the EPA, is considered to be one of the top 5 hazards to human health. Paints and finishes are among the leading causes. Paints and finishes release low level toxic emissions into the air for years after application. The source of these toxins is a variey of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) which, until recently, were essential to the performance of the paint. New environmental regulations, and consumer demand, have led to the development of low-VOC and zero-VOC paints and finishes. Most paint manufacturers now produce one or more non-VOC variety of paint. These new paints are durable, cost-effective and less harmful to human and environmental health.
Zero VOC - Any paint with VOCs in the range of 5 grams/litre or less can be called "Zero VOC," according to the EPA Reference Test Method 24. Some manufacturers may claim "Zero VOCs," but these paints may still use colorants, biocides and fungicides with some VOCs. Adding a color tint usually brings the VOC level up to 10 grams/liter, which is still quite low.
Low VOC - Low-VOC paints, stains and varnishes use water as a carrier instead of petroleum-based solvents. As such, the levels of harmful emissions are lower than solvent-borne surface coatings. These certified coatings also contain no, or very low levels, of heavy metals and formaldehyde. The amount of VOCs varies among different "low-VOC" products, and is listed on the paint can or MSDS. Paints and stains, to meet EPA standards. must not contain VOCs in excess of 200 grams per litre. Varnishes must not contain VOCs in excess of 300 grams per liter. As a general rule, low VOC paints marketed by reputable paint manufacturers usually meet the 50 g/L VOC threshold. Paints with the Green Seal Standard (GS-11) mark are certified lower than 50 g/L (for flat sheen) or 150 g/L (for non-flat sheen). Low VOC paints will still emit an odor until dry. If you are particularly sensitive, make sure the paint you buy contains fewer than 25 grams/liter of VOCs.
Non-toxic paint strippers - Most paint strippers are caustic - they work by melting the paint. The active ingredient, methylene chloride, is a potential carcinogen. A new generation of biodegradable paint strippers is now entering the market. They are water-soluble, noncaustic and nontoxic - some can even be washed down the drain. The active ingredient in these products is n-methylpyrrolidone, an organic solvent. Rather than burning or melting, the compound chemically changes the paint itself, softening its bond with the substrate and changing its structure so it can't reharden. The downside? These new strippers are more expensive than their traditional counterparts, and they take longer to work.
License No. 836278 | Stockton, California
Office: 209-937-2468 | Cell: 209-993-2911 | Fax: 209-952-6714