As we become more conscious of how our environment affects our health, we are beginning to see a shift in consumer choices when it comes to a home’s materials, paints and finishes. Did you know that indoor air is three times more polluted than outdoor air? According to the EPA, indoor air quality is considered one of the top five hazards to human health, and paints and finishes are among the leading causes.

low VOC paintsIn the case of paints, evaporation is greatest during and right after application, but continues at lower levels long after. The gases mix with the air in the room, exposing occupants to chemicals that can have a rash of short- and long-term effects, including eye irritation, respiratory problems, headaches, loss of coordination, nausea, and damage to the liver, kidneys and central nervous system. Exposure to volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, has also been linked to cancer.

New environmental regulations, and consumer demand, have led to the development of low-VOC and no-VOC paints and finishes. Most paint manufacturers now produce one or more no-VOC varieties of paint. These new paints are durable, cost-effective and less harmful to human and environmental health.

Allowable levels of VOCs for paints and products such as aerosol air fresheners, carpets, and furniture have been toughened because VOCs—in addition to their negative effects on a home’s occupants—contribute to ozone and smog formation. And claims by many manufacturers have grown bolder as they market to an audience more familiar with and perhaps more receptive to buying green goods.

Benefits of low- or no-VOC paints include:

  • Reduced toxins, which benefits everyone, including those with allergies and chemical sensitivities.
  • Reduced landfill, groundwater and ozone-depleting contaminants.
  • These paint products perform well in terms of coverage, scrubability and hideability (covering flaws on previous coats).
  • Since they are water based, they clean up easily with soap and warm water.
  • Low odor during application; no odor once cured. No off-gassing. Painted areas can be occupied sooner, with no odor complaints.
  • They are not deemed hazardous waste, so cleanup and disposal are greatly simplified.

If you have chemical sensitivities or are concerned about indoor air quality and comfort, you may want to research no- and low-VOC paints. These paints are widely available at most paint retailers.

Feel free to contact me with any questions about indoor comfort, as well as for any of your real estate needs.