With paints, stains and sealants, it’s what doesn’t go in them that counts.
You know it when you see it- just the right color for the wall, the right texture or finish for the surface. But with paint and surface coatings it’s also important to know what’s in them. That “freshly painted smell” often indicates more than just a new hint of color in the room.
In the U.S. we use more than a billion gallons of paint in a year, not to mention sealants, stains, and clear finishes. Many coatings contain volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) that, while enhancing performance or surface durability, also cause pollution and health problems. Approximately 60% of the air we breathe in any given space is actually the off-gassing from surfaces in the room. It makes sense to make those surfaces as healthy and environmentally safe as possible.
Advancements in chemistry today allow for better performance and health value in finishes and coatings. More durable finishes are available with fewer toxic solvents in them; water-based varnishes for hardwood and bamboo floors, clear sealants for sealing in VOC’s from existing materials, zero and low VOC paints. Commercial paints are now available that are formaldehyde, ammonia, and benzene-free, good news for the homeowner and painter alike. Organic alternatives to petrochemical paints are also available that have less harmful impact upon the environment and human health in use and disposal.
The indoor environment is now considered ten times more polluted than the outdoor environment -not good for those of us spending most of our day indoors. The effects on us can be both subtle and dramatic, from simple allergic reactions to neurological damage and chronic illness. Paint may seem like a small thing in the scheme of large renovation and building projects, but its impact is huge. Make small changes for a big difference.