Using Low and No VOC Paints in Portland

Posted by Sam Sundeleaf on Monday, March 01, 2010

In today’s culture, most people consider their role in caring for the environment and are aware of “green” practices such as recycling and scrutinizing the chemical make-up of cleaning products, personal care products, etc. Many paint manufacturers have also been considering what it means be “green” and both the paint professional and homeowner find the new “green” or “natural” paint choices to be a valid option when selecting paint. 

The new paint industry “buzz words” are “low VOC” and “zero VOC. “VOC” is the acronym for Volatile Organic Compounds and these compounds are the organic materials in standard paint products. Formaldehyde and benzene are two of the common VOCs used in paint as solvents and preservatives. Once walls have been painted, there is an odor or a “fresh paint smell” left behind as the paint dries. This odor is caused by evaporation of the VOCs and exposure to VOCs in paint can cause eye burning, breathing issues, dizziness, headaches or asthma attacks. 

Today, alternative paints are much more readily available due to consumer demand and government recommendations. Consumers can expect to find the following types of alternative paints: Low Odor or Low VOC Paint; Zero VOC Paint; Non-Toxic or Natural Paint. While there are only recommended guidelines for the Low-VOC and No-VOC paints, the consumer should be vigilant in reading through the marketing information found on paint can labels. Generally, reputable paint manufacturers meet the 50 g/L “VOC Threshold (250 g/L is the EPA standard),”   but many paints have a range of 10-25 g/L. In addition, many paints may meet Low VOC or No VOC standards, but when the paint is tinted, the VOC levels are increased. The darker the tinting, the higher the VOC level. Some paint manufacturers have created newer colorant systems that do not rely on carbon-based solvents, therefore assuring the lower VOC recommendations.

Before beginning the search for the perfect paint color, spend time learning these new paint vocabulary words: “low VOC,” “no VOC” and “green.” Several websites have pertinent information on “VOCs” and recommended paint products. In addition, the paint professionals at Sundeleaf can provide further information on these compounds and paint products.

Sundeleaf Painting, Inc.
2037 SE Ochoco Street
Portland, Oregon 97222
(503) 236-9797

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