Eco-Friendly Paint Buying Guide

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Eco-Friendly Paint Buying Guide

Staff Writer · Dec 3, 2010

Eco friendly paint is becoming easier to find and available in more options than ever before. In the past, eco-friendly paint was found in specialty stores or online but now can be found in your local home improvement stores. Many families now consider eco-friendly paint a great choice to not only help the environment but provide a healthy environment and better air for their family. If you or someone in the family has problems with allergies it can be even more important to use paints that will not release odors and toxins in to the air that can aggravate these allergies.

Watch for Low or Zero VOC Labels

VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are the main thing to watch for when purchasing eco-friendly paint. VOCs are a measurement of the amount of toxins the paint releases in to the air. The lower the VOCs, the better. Zero VOC paint is now on the market as well and most major paint brand names now offer at least one low or zero VOC option. To qualify as low VOC, the paint must contain no more than 200 grams of VOCs per liter of paint and the zero VOC paints must have less than 5 grams. Look on the paint can for the amount of VOCs per liter. Low VOC paint still emits an odor and for those with strong allergies ans sensitivities, they may still cause problems.

Choose Water Based Paints

Look for paints made from natural materials instead of oil based paints. Many paints available on the market today can be found in water based options which are much better for the environment. Water based paint has other advantages as well including that it does not show brush strokes as much as oil based paints and it dries faster.

Look for Natural Ingredients in the Paint

Other options in eco-friendly paints include paints made from natural ingredients. These ingredients may include:

  • milk
  • clay
  • lime
  • chalk
  • soy

These substances are all non-toxic and create a better breathing environment inside the home than regular oil based paints. Plant dyes and essential oils can be used to add color and scents to the paints. For those with allergies, these paints are often much easier to breathe without causing reactions. These all natural paints are usually considered the safest for you and the environment.

Avoid Ethylene Glycol

Ethylene glycol is often used as a solvent in regular oil based paints but what many people do not know is that it is listed as a hazardous substance with many state and federal organizations. It is considered toxic and may cause problems such as irritation to the eyes, nose and throat. Further findings suggest that being exposed to ethylene glycol for longer periods of time can cause nausea and even respiratory failure. In extreme situations it is known to cause kidney failure. Obviously, ethylene glycol should be avoided if possible but it is especially important if someone in the home has strong allergies. Look for paints labeled “ethylene glycol free”.

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