What are VOCs?
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are emitted from various products such as paints, solvents, household cleaners, and pesticides. They include a variety of toxic chemicals such as arsenic, benzene, and formaldehyde. In paints & stains (even acrylic/water-based products) these gasses are what cause the product to have that “new paint smell” which lingers long after initial application. In fact, paints never stop releasing VOCs over their entire life-time. Because of this, the US’s EPA has classified paints as one its top five most hazardous substances. VOC emissions contribute to smog and greenhouse gas emissions.VOCs can also be found in other materials painters commonly use such as caulking or spackling compounds (sundries). At Ecobrush, we use low or no VOC sundries wherever possible.
What is off-gassing?
Off-gassing is the process where chemical solvents in paints (or other materials/coatings) leech into the air. While off-gassing is occurs most rapidly (and is most noticeable) while the paint is drying, it is a process that occurs throughout the life of the product. Off-gassing reduces air quality indoors and contributes to smog outdoors.
The ability of VOCs to cause health effects varies greatly from those that are highly toxic, to those with no known health effect. As with other pollutants, the extent and nature of the health effect will depend on many factors including level of exposure and length of time exposed. Eye and respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, visual disorders, and memory impairment are among the immediate symptoms that some people have experienced soon after exposure to some VOCs. At present, not much is known about what health effects occur from the levels of VOCs usually found in homes. Many VOCs are known to cause cancer in animals; some are suspected of causing, or are known to cause, cancer in humans.
Low & Zero VOC Paints
Using a paint that has little to no VOCs is important for your family's health and for the environment. Low-VOC and zero-VOC terms are now commonly used by many painting companies and contractors to advertise their products. By regulation, to use the term "low-VOC" the paint must have a VOC content BEFORE tinting of less than 50 g/L and less than 5 g/L to use the term "zero-VOC". These terms can be misleading because the tint in a paint usually contains a VOC content of 5-20 g per ounce and certain colours can require over 10 ounces of tint colourant leading to an additional 100+ g of VOCs in a can of paint! Ecobrush uses paints such as Mythic that have a proprietary VOC-free tinting system to make sure that Zero-VOC means 100% non-toxic.
Are Eco-friendly paints as durable and long-lasting as traditional paints?
Ecobrush does extensive product testing to ensure that the eco-friendly products we recommend to you will last. There are now quite a range of eco-friendly paints on the market today with varying qualities. With the right paint used for the right application, an eco-friendly paint can often out-perform traditional toxic paints. Its important to consult with a painter that specializes in eco-friendly painting to know which products is best for your project.