What does VOC stand for anyways? If you’ve done your research, you probably already know about these chemicals known as volatile organic compounds.
Below we’re discussing everything you need to know about paint and VOCs, why paint contains VOCs and common questions we receive about paint and VOCs.
What is paint made of?
1. Pigment: gives the paint its color
2. Binders: help the pigment stick to the wall or surface
3. Solvents: (carrier or thinner) keep the paint in liquid form, making it easier to apply. Can be oil or water based.
Why is paint made with VOCs?
Lowering VOC levels can affect performance. The solvent component in paint contains the most VOCs, although the other ingredients contribute as well. Typically paint with a greater percentage of solids (higher VOC) results in more color on the wall, meaning they require fewer coats.
*Oil-based solvents have a high VOC content
*Water-based solvents (ex: latex paint) have low or no VOC content
What is the harm?
VOCs may contribute to respiratory illness and allergic reactions, although there is very little statistical data to prove at what levels someone may be affected.
What are the limits for VOC levels?
Federal VOC limits are set at 250 grams per liter (g/l) for flat paints and 380 g/l for others.
Some states (ex: California) and regions have lowered the VOC levels for paints that can be sold.
What other products can contain VOCs?
Aerosol sprays and air fresheners, carpet, nail polish, dry cleaned clothes and even furniture.
Things to Keep in Mind
*While the solvent may be the major contributor here when it comes to VOCs, pigments and binders can also contain VOCs.
*When paint is labeled ‘low VOC’ that means the paint typically has 50 g/L or below.
The major takeaway here is that some VOC’s are almost always found in indoor air. As a general rule, try to limit your exposure to chemicals. Store paint in a sealed container in the garage or basement when not being used. And when painting, open windows to allow for more ventilation.
A few paints that you can find at Ace Hardware of Fort Collins that have low or no VOC’s include:
• Benjamin Moore – Ben, Regal Select and Aura (low VOC), Natura (no VOC’s) (20% off through March 31st, 2015)
• Clark and Kensington (CK)