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Green Home Improvements .info is written by Charles Faust. Charles has been in the home improvement industry since the early 1990's and has owned his own company for a little over 10 years. This blog was created to show Charles' efforts in making his lifestyle more "Green" and how his product selections for his clients are becoming "Greener".

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Archive for the ‘Paint’ Category

Low VOC Paints

Written by green1 on Aug 26th, 2008 | Filed under: Paint

A Choice of Colors – All Green

Giving your home a well-deserved makeover is a job that’s exciting and fulfilling, more so when you see your beloved home slowly regain its lost and faded glory with a few nifty touches here and a coat or two of pain there. But if there’s one thing that brings the rains down on your parade, it’s the toxic fumes that emanate from your painted walls and associated ills they bring. Paints contain carbon-based chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOC) that cause a variety of ailments and diseases and also pollute the environment. Alternative products that are eco-friendly are flooding the market and finding takers, especially in these days of heightened awareness of global warming.
•    Low VOC Paints: Paints, varnishes and stains that fall under this category are water-based or latex-based as opposed to being petroleum-based and thus emit a smaller number of toxins. They also contain extremely low levels of lead, formaldehyde and other heavy metals that are a standard of regular paints. Low VOC paints are characterized by the distinctive paint odor until they’re dry, with the time depending on the number of grams per liter of VOCs (the lower the figure, the more eco-friendly the paint). Paints with a flat finish and those that are white or light colored have lower amounts of VOCs than those with glossy finishes and darker and brighter shades.
•    Zero VOC Paints: Paints and finishes that have less than five grams per liter of VOC fall under the zero VOC category. Adding color to these paints increases the VOC level by up to 10 grams per liter. Zero VOC is not an accurate description since these paints do release a small amount of volatile organic compounds into the atmosphere, albeit they are considerably less than the levels of emission from other paints.
•    Natural Paints: Manufactured using raw materials including plant-based dyes, resins and oils like linseed, citrus, pine, balsam and soy, water, clay, chalk, talcum, natural latex, lime, bees’ wax, earth and mineral dyes and milk casein, these paints and finishes are free of the strong odors we normally associate with new paint. They are also safe to use for people with allergies and dermatological sensitivities to chemical products. They are available in a variety of colors, are easy to clean using soap and warm water and not harmful to the environment during disposal. Natural paints are made from renewable sources, can be produced using minimum energy and produce very little waste that is not toxic to the environment. Some natural paints that contain turpenes and citrus oils may cause some people irritation in the eyes or lungs because of a small amount of VOCs present in them.
•    Milk-based Paints: These are the best in terms of low levels of VOC in that they emit no volatile organic compounds at all. They can be stored indefinitely as powders The downside is that they’re not suitable for areas that become damp frequently like the walls of kitchens and bathrooms. They also take an inordinately long time to dry and demand coats of repaint on a regular basis.
Even if the paints are labeled low or zero VOC, check the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) that provides information on the composition and properties of the elements in the paint. Paints and finishes that meet EPA standards must not contain VOCs greater than 200 grams per liter but the ideal low VOC paint must not contain more than 50 grams per liter of these toxic carbon-based compounds.

This article is contributed by Sarah Scrafford, who regularly writes on the topic of luxury real estate for sale in Canada. She invites your questions, comments and freelancing job inquiries at her email address: sarah.scrafford25@gmail.com