Clean and fresh air is the top priority of every homeowner these days. When people think of remodeling their house or consider a home addition project, they prefer choosing less toxic paints and stains to add to the eco-friendly characters of their home. A recent study carried out by the National Cancer Institute revealed that people working in the painting trades are at greater risk of developing cancer, which asserts how dangerous paints and stains can be to an individual’s health and his/her family. That is why we have a lot of options in environment friendly paints and stains today, so that no one has to compromise on the aesthetic appeal of his/her home while choosing to follow the green way of life.
Most paints have volatile organic compounds or VOCs as their main ingredient. These are a specific type of chemicals, which evaporate very quickly at room temperature. However, the substance can remain in the room air for at more than a couple of weeks, depending on the type of VOCs in the paint. This can then lead to a number of health issues such as irritation of the eyes, nausea, dizziness, respiratory tract problems, etc. In worst cases, VOC emissions can cause heart, lung, or kidney diseases, and/or even lead to cancer.
Home remodeling Los Angeles experts say that VOC gases also pollute the outside air and negatively affect the environment. Reports from the California Air Resources Board say that around 110 million lbs of VOC emissions generated in California are results of oil-based paints and stains. Note that oil-based paints have more VOC content than water-based paints, typically making up about 40% – 60% of the ingredients to dissolve and diffuse the other components of the paint.
Some paints also have fungicides and biocides as their main ingredient, which works to prevent mold and mildew growth as well as helps to extend the paint’s shelf life. Studies say that traces of toxic biocides can remain in the air even after 5 years of applying the paint. This can be particularly dangerous for the residents who are allergic to substances like dust and pollen. Besides, the fungicides and biocides in the paint can even seep into groundwater if the remaining paint is not discarded properly.
The first thing to consider when buying paint is obviously the color. However, to go the eco-friendly way, you should stay away from paints that contain toxic chemical pigments and buy paints with all-natural pigments instead. Moreover, you should also keep an eye on the VOC content, and use paints that have low fungicide and biocide content.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the VOC content should be below 250 gm/l in acrylic and latex paints and below 380 gm/l in oil-based paints. When they meet the minimum requirements as stated by the Federal agency, such paints are labeled “low-VOC”. However, you can also find paints with even lower VOC content than that stated by the EPA, which would further benefit your cause. You can find the VOC level mentioned on the container and even ask the company to provide a material safety data sheet to validate that.
Note that all exterior paints include fungicides to prevent mold and mildew growth, and there are no low-level biocide paints for exterior application either. However, you can still lessen the impact on the environment by choosing paints that have zinc oxide as the fungicide or the ones that have very low to zero VOC content. Acrylic paints, latex paints, and recycled water-based paints are also a good choice for reducing the harmful emissions. At the same time, make sure to avoid oil-based paints and those that come in old containers that might have mercury or lead content.
As for the interior paints, home painting services Los Angeles experts say that milk paints and natural paints work the best as eco-friendly options. Milk paints are made from a milk protein, known as casein, and lime. These give a rich and deep color to the interior walls, and allow the grain to show its true charm. Natural paints, on the other hand, are made from minerals and natural materials such as citrus and balsam. They are petroleum-free and contain volatile organic compounds derived from plants. They also give a rich and deep color to the applied surface.
You can also buy latex paints for interior application, which have a very low level of VOC and biocide content. However, it can contain strong terpenes, which is why it is recommended to use latex paints with great caution. Acrylic paints are also a good option for interior walls application. Regardless of which paint you choose, make sure that the room is well ventilated during the painting process as well as for at least a couple of days after the paint job is done. This would ensure that no residual emission remains inside the house to create any health problems for the residents.
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