Paint is everywhere we look. It makes our life colorful and comfortable and even affects our moods. Paint can be found on the walls of our homes, our work places, offices, playgrounds, hospitals, theaters and stores. It’s also the first thing we think of when we want to update the look of our surroundings.
But there’s danger lurking in that can, in the form of exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOC), the source of that new paint smell. Exposure to VOC in paint can trigger asthma stacks, eye irritation and dizziness and other symptoms, and studies indicate long-term exposure to VOC may be linked to cancer.
Thus, choosing a low- or no-VOC paint can improve indoor air quality and our health. Voluntary compliance for VOC content in paint products has been described by Green Seal, an independent nonprofit that sets standards for environmentally responsible products. The Green Seal certification standard GS-11 is based on VOC content, the absence of chemicals, durability and performance, among other criteria. Look for this seal when buying paint.
The Behr Premium paint line has a zero-VOC version that comes in more than 4,000 colors and is available at Home Depot. Benjamin Moore has a line of Natura waterborne paint, a zero-VOC qualifying product that comes in the company’s full line of colors and doesn’t need a primer on most surfaces.
Sherwin-Williams has a zero-VOC Harmony acrylic latex paint with antimicrobial additives to help minimize the growth of mold and mildew on both the interior and exterior of a dwelling.
Milk paint is an organic product with ingredients that include biodegradable proteins, milk and minerals. It is made from milk, lime and pigment found in the environment, such as coal for a black pigment or clay for a reddish tint.
A new paint from YOLO Colorhouse is made without carcinogens, VOC, formaldehyde or phthalates. The containers are 100 percent recycled plastic and the trucks used to ship the product use bio-diesel fuel.
Choosing a professional painter is just as important as the paint. They should be fully licensed and insured, with references from past clients. Talk with them about the type of surface to be painted and whether they need to do repairs such as filling holes or removing curtains and towel bars. The location of the job is also important if it is outdoors and subject to the weather.
The degree of difficulty is often related to the price quote, which should be in writing, and include materials to be furnished and necessary labor, including assistants. Deposits are often required and the painter may requiring the owner of the property to show proof of fire, tornado and other necessary insurance.
Choosing no-VOC, fast-drying paint helps both the customer and the painter, because they are exposed to the fumes on a regular basis. While we are not responsible for their welfare in their chosen profession, it might be that our own inquiries lead the painter to discover insights about new products they can recommend to future customers, completing a circle of awareness that benefits everyone.
John S. Frey is the manager of Spectrum Painting of Northwest Florida, LLC, in Niceville. For more information, call 850-897-0700.