When selecting paint, most people tend to spend a lot of time choosing the best color and sheen, but hardly give any thought to the VOC level marked on the paint container. Most people don’t even know what VOC is.

If you’re wondering what VOC is, they are chemical compounds used in most oil-based paints to enhance its performance and durability. It is also responsible for the pungent smell associated with fresh paint. Before hiring a professional painter for your next painting job, learn about VOC in paints to limit its harmful effects in your home.

Here’s what you might need to know about VOC paint.

What is VOC and how it can impact your health?

Commonly found in traditional paints and coatings, VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) are harmful carbon-containing organic chemicals that get emitted into the air as the paint dries. When VOCs evaporate, they react with nitrogen oxides to form ground-level ozone and other air pollutants. Emitted as harmful gas, VOCs impact indoor air quality very badly. As per a study, the indoor environment concentration of VOCs is generally two to five times higher than outdoor. Traditional latex paints can continue emitting VOCs for years but the most off-gassing happens during the first six months after the painting is done.

VOCs impact on health:

The gases emitted from VOC paints can cause a host of health issues including dizziness, headache, nausea, itchy eyes, allergies and breathing issues. Breathing in a high level of VOCs or solvent paint fumes for a prolonged time can lead to severe lung ailments, memory loss or even damage to the kidney, liver. Formaldehyde and Benzene that are found in most of the VOC paints are proven carcinogens.

What is Low VOC and Zero VOC?

To keep your home safe from VOC related health hazards, a feasible solution is buying paints with low or zero VOCs. Though these environmentally responsible paints are costlier than oil-based traditional paints, in the long run it will be worth the added expense. Due to stern government regulations and the growing popularity of eco-friendly products worldwide most of the reliable paint manufactures in the USA are focusing on producing a broad range of environmentally responsible coatings and Low-Zero VOC paints to limit the environmental impact of VOC off-gassing.

Low VOC: Containing a reduced amount of VOCs, these eco-friendly paints don’t off-gas as much as regular oil-based paints. Paint can be referred to as low VOC if it contains less than 200 grams of VOCs/liter. If you are highly sensitive to the fresh paint smell, buy low VOC paints with less than 25 grams/liter of VOC’s. Though low VOC paints are mainly used for indoor applications, nowadays many reputed painting professions have also started using them for exterior painting as well.

Zero VOC: Ideally Zero VOC or No VOC paints should not contain any volatile organic compounds in them. In the USA, No-VOC paints still can have less than 5 grams of VOCs per liter to be called safe.

What to Look for When Shopping for Paint?

Whether you are thinking of painting yourself or looking to hire professional painters for your next painting job, the following are some of the important factors that you need to consider when buying paints to keep your family safe from VOC exposure.

  • Try to buy zero or low VOC paint. While buying paint, look for paint solutions containing less than 50 grams/liter of VOC. Carefully check the paint can label to know the VOC count per liter.
  • If planning to hire a professional painter, ask beforehand what materials they will be using.
  • Make sure that the colorants used to create the paint color is zero or low VOC.
  • Look for paint products with Green Seal Certification Mark on the can. This certification identifies that the product is safe for human health and the environment.

Hire a reliable painter in San Diego to give your house a new look with non-toxic, Zero VOC paints.

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