What are VOC's?
VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compounds. They are organic chemicals that cause large numbers of molecules to evaporate from the substance into the air. VOC's are released into the air during manufacturing and use of products and materials, such as paint. VOC's are both human-made and naturally existing chemical compounds and are a concern to both indoors and outdoors, but have different effects to both. The concern of VOC's indoors is the potential to have long-term health effects to the consumers who are exposed. The EPA regulates VOC's outdoors because of their ability to create photochemical smog under certain conditions.
Here are three things you should know about VOC's before choosing a paint for your home:
1.) VOC's in paint:
Some may think the smell of paint is great, (?!?) but judging by the odor, you can probably guess that you may be breathing in something that is bad for your health. Buying no or low-VOC paint will still have an odor, but the odor will not be harmful. Most of today's paints do contain VOC's, therefore it is very important to keep your family's health and the environment in mind when choosing the right paint for your home. Have you ever felt dizzy or had a headache after painting your home? Those are short-term results of VOC's being released into the air after the paint has dried. Other short-term effects of the chemicals include breathing problems, burning or watery eyes and nausea. Although most of the short-term results of VOC's are caused soon after the paint has dried, VOC's can still be released into the air years after the initial painting, which can still put your family at risk. In fact, not all of the VOC's in your paint have been released even after 50 years of the initial painting. Some VOC's have been linked to cancer, kidney and liver damage.
2.) If VOC's are so bad, why do they exist?
VOC's perform a very important and necessary function in paint. The function is to solidify the paint. The evaporation of the chemicals during the painting process is actually the role of making a wet wall become dry. Although VOC's are important in the paint drying process, the increasing awareness of the harmful effects of VOC's to consumers and the environment has led paint manufactures to offer low-VOC and no-VOC paints. EPA regulated No-VOC paints consist of five or less grams of VOC's per liter of paint. No-VOC paints are usually latex paints, which are common interior and exterior paints.
3.) Does No, Low-VOC effect the quality of the paint?
Good news, no and low-VOC paints are actually easier to apply! Here's how it works; Paint consists of three main components. Pigment, binders, and solvents. Solvents contain most of the VOC's that are in paint. Solvents keep the paint in liquid form and make it easier to apply. Solvents are typically oil-based or water-based. Oil-based solvents contain high levels of VOC's and water-based solvents contain lower or no levels of VOC's. Oil based paints are more difficult to use than water based paints. Now that there is greater concern about health and the environment, oil based paints with high VOC'S are becoming less existent and manufactures are coming up with safer alternatives. So, if you want to make the switch to Low, or No-VOC paint, you may have to pay a little more than regular paint, but if you are especially concerned about the health of you, your family, and the environment, then choosing Low, or No-VOC is a great idea.