Our earth has been in the middle of an excessive use cycle which is depleting our natural resources. Our extreme energy consumption, pollution, overpopulation, and unsustainable development have all taken a toll on our planet.
Luckily there are a lot more people changing their living habits to help slow the depletion process. The first person that stands out in my mind is Ed Begley Jr. who was known as Dr. Ehrlich on the TV series St. Elsewhere. He and his wife had a reality show called “Living With Ed” where they showed what it was like to actually live with a negative carbon footprint. They recycle, compost, use solar panels for electric and drive an electric car. He said that in 1970 he got tired of all the smog in LA and decided to make a difference.
Our business is directly involved with the use of paints, stains, and varnishes and we have found there are benefits of using less toxic products. Over the years we can see how these products improved in ease of application, quality, and longevity. They are much better for your health and the environment.
Paints and finishes release low level toxic emissions into the air for years after application. The cause of these toxins is a variety of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which until recently, were essential to the performance of the paint. There are three general categories of low-toxic paints: Natural paints, Zero VOC, and low VOC.
Natural paints and finishes are made from natural raw ingredients such as water, plant oils and resins, plant dyes and essential oils. You can find certain products made with minerals like clay, chalk, talcum; natural latex, bees’ wax, earth and mineral dyes. They are the safest for you and the environment.
Zero VOC paints will have a VOC range of 5 grams/liter or less according to the EPA Reference Test Method 24. Some manufacturers may claim Zero VOC’s but actually by adding color tint it will bring increase the level of VOC’s up to 10 grams/liter which is still quite low. Our local Sherwin Williams store carries their Harmony product line of zero-VOC low-odor latex interior paints and primers.
Low VOC paints, stains, and varnishes use water as a carrier instead of petroleum-based solvents to reduce the levels of harmful emissions. They also contain no or very low levels of heavy metals and formaldehyde. Paints and stains must not contain VOC’s in excess of 200 grams/liter to meet the EPA standards.
If you are doing a project yourself, always check labels to see if the product has a registration number with these following agencies: EPA, OSHA, DOT. If it does it means that the product contains toxic ingredients which must be monitored by a government agency. We would be happy to recommend products for your specific needs or incorporate them in your home or commercial project.