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Eco-conscious Painting

Painting the interior of your home is an almost inevitable chore that must be faced whether you enjoy painting or not. Over the past month, my husband and I have painted our bathroom and one bedroom wall and it got me thinking about paint and the environment.

If you’ve ever painted, you know that it has a unique odor that sticks around for a few days as the paint dries and cures on the wall. These odors are from chemicals called VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) and can be hazardous to your health if you are sensitive to chemicals or in a high risk group. High risk groups include infants and children, the elderly, pregnant women, asthmatics, or individuals with chemical sensitivity or other respitory concerns.

Many environmental advocates will say that VOCs are highly toxic to all individuals and should be avoided at all costs. If you are concerned about your exposure to VOCs, you may want to consider a Low or Zero VOC paint. They can be purchased at almost any paint counter, but are almost double the cost of regular paint.

My husband and I did not choose to go with the environmentally friendly option because we are concerned about the price of paint. If you are willing to pay $40 + per can of paint, it may be well worth the investment, but in these hard economic times, we do not consider it a priority as we do not have children or health problems that must be considered. If I were pregnant (which I am not), or we had small children, I would purchase the no VOC paint to reduce their exposure.

If you do choose to work with a low or no VOC paint option, you should consider using a well known brand name to ensure that the paint will adhere nicely to the walls. There are plenty of organic paint options made from clay or other materials, but I have read that they do not cover as well and are cost prohibitive and are a bit harder to find than the low or zero VOC paint that you can find at your local hardware mega-store.

A Note About VOCs:
It is extremly difficult to limit indoor exposure to VOCs even if you are not painting. Chemical fumes off-gas from all kinds of products like new carpet, chemical cleaners, that new car smell so many love, metal and wood furniture, and even some kinds of fabric. To limit exposure, make sure that your home is well ventilated, especially when surrounded by any potential chemical fumes. If you have any kind of skin, eye, or lung irritation, consider looking up the MSDS for that product for more information or seek out medical attention if needed.

So, have you painted with zero VOC paint or another non-traditional paint? If so, please share your experience with us!

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