Eco paints: a much healthier way to decorate?
Some conventional paints contain volatile organic compounds or VOCs for short. These chemical compounds prefer to be in a gas state which is what makes them volatile.
The VOC group includes some well-known chemical nasties such as formaldehyde, benzene and acetone. If contained within the paint you're using, the VOCs will not only get released whilst you're decorating but also for up to five years after you've finished the job. Used as binders, they are designed to bind the paint together in liquid form and, as the paint dries, get released into the atmosphere. All this contributes to the fact that interior space is considered to be now more polluted than the air we breathe outside.
Painters and decorators are 40% more likely to contract lung cancer, according to the WHO so it stands to reason that some are worried about the harm done to those living in VOC painted rooms. By 2010, the European Union limits on VOC levels will come into force, meaning that all paint produced must comply with those levels. Some companies have already complied with this due mainly to the actions of B&Q who, back in the 90s, decided to print VOC levels on their suppliers paint labels. This led to many manufacturers reducing the VOC levels in their paint significantly.
Eco paints are now being looked to as an alternative to the conventional paints that contain low levels of VOCs. Largely thought to be a little bland and unreliable, eco-paints have come a long way from this in reality. You can now get them in a variety of different colours and it's claimed that on wood and timber especially, the paints work better than conventional ones as they impregnate and bond with wood much more effectively and therefore last longer.
According to the 'Ethical Consumer', some of the best or, at least most ethically produced or healthy eco paints you can buy are:
- Auro 321 emulsion
- ECOS emulsion
- Green Paints emulsion
- NUTS Eco emulsion
If you're worried about allergies or the health risks associated with VOC levels, then eco-paint might be exactly what you're after when you next redecorate.