Facts About Paints Everyone Should Know

ECOS 12/15/2013

Most people assume that since paints are used on almost every surface in almost every man-made space we create, they must be safe. Not so much. Here are 5 facts about paints everyone should know that will definitely make you re-think your next home reno project.

1. Conventional paints contain potentially toxic chemicals. You’re probably well aware that most paints aren’t safe to ingest and their fumes are quite noxious. But, did you know conventional paints contain chemicals like known carcinogens (cancer causing chemicals), neurotoxicants (chemicals that impact brain development, cognitive function, and behavior), and more? The roster of toxics you’ll find include terpenes, formaldehyde, acrolein, phthalates, glycol, toluene, methylene chloride, styrene, trichloroethylene, xylenes, and benzene.

2. Just because that “new paint smell” is gone, doesn’t mean the toxic chemicals are. VOCs aren’t only released when the paint is fresh (that “new paint smell”), they can off-gas for the next three to five years!

3. Zero-VOC paints can still contain toxic chemicals. Just as you’d assume, “low-VOC” and “zero-VOC” mean a product has less VOCs than traditional paints. But, don’t take it at face value. Low or zero-VOC doesn’t always mean non-toxic or healthy or safe. Even zero-VOC paints can contain other risky chemicals not considered VOCs (like highly toxic ammonia and acetone which are not classified as VOCs and are not required by law to appear on the label). Or, the low or zero-VOC claim may only refer to the base paint – not the color tint. So, the moment you add color to your base, you’ve added VOCs right back in.

4. Third-party, eco-friendly, and health certifications can be just as misleading. All third party certifications including the highest levels of certification allow for at least 2 teaspoons (about 50,000 parts per million/ppm) of these chemicals as part of their standards. Yet, toxic chemical exposures as low as 5ppm can cause damage ranging from skin and eye irritation to long-term damage to kidney, respiratory, and cognitive functions.

How do you choose a better paint?

Since there aren’t regulations in place to adequately protect your health, and labeling can be so deceptive, the burden – unfortunately – is on you. But, allow us to make it easy. ECOS Paints are truly zero VOC* and non-toxic** and they also have unparalleled quality and coverage. Order your free color sample cards today!

What do you want to know about paint? Leave your questions in the comments below. We’re happy to help!

*Conforms to CDPH 01350 (VOC emissions test taken at 11, 12, & 14 days for classroom and office use). Learn more about VOCs and our commitment to healthier paints here.

**Conforms to ASTMD-4236, specifically concerning oral toxicity, skin irritation and respiratory effects.

CATEGORIES eco-labeling|paint safety|VOCs