Painting with Low-VOC Paint
Some of us go gaga for that new car smell, but we DIY types often feel the same way about a fresh coat of paint on our walls. While that "new paint" smell can mean an updated home renovation project or a new home period, all that paint isn't so great for us to be inhaling. Most commercial paints contain thousands of chemicals, many of which are known carcinogens. These chemicals, referred to as Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs, actually vaporize into the air, causing problems for the environment and our health. Ever feel nauseous or headachy around in a freshly painted room? You can thank VOCs in the paint for that.
So, what are VOCs used for? VOCs are solvents. They keep paint in its liquid form, making it easier to apply to walls and other hard surfaces. Otherwise, you'd get a great color but a quick-drying paint that would be difficult for an amateur painter to use.
Tips on Choosing a Low-VOC Paint
The good news: low-VOC and even no-VOC paints are becoming more readily available everywhere, giving you safer alternatives when you're ready to update your home's look.
Water-based solvents are typically much lower in VOCs and are most commonly found in latex paints. Oil-based paints, on the other hand, have higher concentrations of VOCs and should be avoided. No matter what you choose, when shopping for paint, look for the "Green Seal," which means the paint you're buying carries the highest environmental standards available.
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