Whether you are about to undertake a complete remodel or just sprucing up your digs, you can make a huge impact without spending a fortune. Color! Wall coatings add so much to your decor and the colors you choose can have a dramatic effect on your emotional state. Cool colors relax and subdue the anxious mind while warm colors give you energy and can bring sunshine into your home even on the darkest day. But, colors are not the only choices you have to make. There are many different brands of paint offering endless shades but some also offer VOC’s or Volatile Organic Compounds harmful chemicals that contribute to poor air quality and can cause respitory irritations or worse if one is particularly sensitive. The solvents in paints can include benzene, formaldehyde, toluene and xylene, which are known carcinogens or neurotoxins. Oil-based paints rely on VOC-emitting solvents such as mineral spirits to control their drying time, but conventional water-based latex paints aren’t necessarily milder: They can contain such VOCs as formaldehyde and the suspected carcinogen acrylonitrile, as well as ethylene glycol ethers associated with lowering sperm count, and fungicides and preservatives to combat mold and mildew.
Here’s some examples of paint alternatives from The Green Guide;
Natural paints, which tend to cost more, are usually made from citrus and other plant ingredients, milk protein or clay. They are better for the environment because most do not use petrochemicals or produce smog and are free of preservatives and biocides. While they take a lot longer to dry, are more difficult to apply and often need to be layered in several coats, the environmental and health benefits associated with natural paints are worth the extra time. Natural paints are best suited for drier areas, as they are less resistant to mildew and molds.
Clean Air Counts, an initiative to reduce ozone-causing emissions in Chicago, recommends using paint with VOC limits within those set by SCAQMD. These limits state that flat paint VOC levels should not exceed 100 grams per liter and non-flat paint (semi-gloss, gloss, eggshell, or satin), not exceed 150 grams per liter. Often labeled “low-“or “no-VOC” these latex paints are water-based and emit fewer harmful fumes than regular latex paint.
While they generally cost more, “VOC-free,” “no-VOC,” or “zero-VOC” paints are less toxic than conventional low-VOC paints, and are virtually free of chemicals listed as carcinogenic under the California law. Because most still contain toxic preservatives, chemically sensitive people should avoid areas exposed to VOC-free paint.
Biocides such as preservatives and fungicides are commonly added to conventional latex paints to fend off mold and mildew, extending shelf-life. “Low-biocide” paints are 90 to 95 percent free of biocides, but may still have high VOC levels. They are best suited for use in indoor dry areas because they are more susceptible to mildew.
“‘Natural milk‘ paints are virtually odorless and are made using the milk protein casein and lime to which are added earth pigments.” They contain no solvents, preservatives or biocides, though some do have synthetic ingredients like acrylic and vinyl. They come in powdered form and once opened or mixed with water, they should be used quickly, as they can mold if left to stand for a few weeks.
“Whitewashes,” which only come in white, contain only lime paste, water and salt. They are a low cost option that, like milk paints, are more fragile and are best applied to plaster, cement or stucco walls.
“Recycled paint,” often a bargain at under $10 per gallon, is created when a few types of paints are consolidated into one. According to the Waste Watch Center, recycled paint should have a minimum of 50% recycled content and be available in consistent colors. However, because several paints are mixed together, recycled paint is often best suited for areas where consistent color is not required.
Alkyd- or oil-based based paints, whose entire carrier (which keeps the paint in liquid form) is a volatile organic compound, contain much higher levels of smog-generating VOCs than do latex paints. (“Environmental Building News Feb 1999 “Paint the Room Green”) While oil-based paints can be marketed as low-VOC, their VOC content is usually much higher than that of latex-based paints. If you must purchase an oil-based paint, make sure it does not contain any of the ingredients listed below:
acrolein, acrylonitrile, antimony, benzene, cadmium, 1,2-dichlorobenzene, etylbenzene, butyl, benzyl, phthalate, formaldehyde, hexavalent, chromium, isophorone, lead, mercury, methylene chloride, methyl ethyl ketone, methyl isobutyl ketone, naphthalene, phthalate esters, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, toluene, and vinyl chloride.
So where do you go to find these air-friendly products. From the Green Guide:
To find the VOC content of a paint, check the back of the paint can. Also look at the manufacturer’s material safety data sheet (MSDS), which most manufacturers provide on their websites. The MSDS contains detailed information about the ingredients found in the paint, as well as its VOC levels.
The paints below are either no- or low-VOC formulated to reduce air-polluting emissions. Most are only available at retailers that specialize in environmentally-friendly products (See Retailers). If you can’t find a particular brand, call the manufacturer for a list of distributors (See Company Contact Information).
|Brand||Natural||VOCs||Potentially Hazardous Solvents||Price||Use|
|AFM Safecoat Eggshell Zero VOC by AFM||No||None||Interior|
|BioShield Clay Paint||Yes||No||None||$40/gallon||Interior|
|BioShield Solvent-Free Wall Paint||Yes||No||None||$34/gallon||Interior|
|Ecological Paint by Innovative Formulations Company||No||None||$20/gallon||Interior/ Exterior|
|EcoSpec by Benjamin Moore||Low (<50 unthinned)||None||$25 to $30/gallon||Interior|
|Enviro-Safe Paint by Chem-Safe Products||No||None||$29.95/gallon||Interior/ Exterior|
|Genesis Odor-Free Interior Latex Flat Wall Paint by Duron||No||None||$26.70/gallon||Interior|
|Kelly-Moore Enviro-Coat Enamel||No||None||Interior|
|LifeMaster 2000 Interior Flat Paint by ICI Dulux||No||None||$25/gallon||Interior|
|Old Fashioned Milk Paint||Yes||No||None||$43.95/gallon||Interior|
Company Contact Information
AFM, http://www.afmsafecoat.com/, 800/239-0321
Auro Paint, http://www.aurousa.com/, 883/302-9352
Benjamin Moore, http://www.benjaminmoore.com/, 800/344-0400
BioShield, http://www.bioshieldpaint.com/, 800/621-2591
Coronado Paint, http://www.coronadopaint.com/, 800/883-4193
Duron Paints & Wallcoverings, http://www.duron.com/, 800/72-DURON
Kelly Moore Paint Company, http://www.kellymoore.com/, 650/592-8337
ICI Dulux, http://www.iciduluxpaints.com/, 216/344-8000
Innovative Formulations Company, http://www.innovativeformulations.com/, 520/628-1553
Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company, http://www.milkpaint.com/, 978/448-6336
Environmental Construction Outfitters, http://www.environproducts.com/, 800/238-5008
Environmental Home Center, http://www.environmentalhomecenter.com/, 800/281-9785
Green Home, http://www.greenhome.com/, 415/282-6400
Natural Home Products, http://www.naturalhomeproducts.com/, 707/824-0914
NEEDS, http://www.needs.com/, 800/634-1380
New Century Paints, www.fargbygge.se, 413/528-4319
Nirvana Safe Heaven, http://www.nontoxic.com/, 800/968-9355
Planetary Solutions, http://www.planetearth.com/, 303/442-6228
Brighten your environment while maintaining your indoor air quality. This can also be a great selling point when you are marketing your home. Don’t forget to let prospective buyers know about this valuable addition you have added to your home.
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Welcome to Pacific Shoreline Pacific Shoreline provides superior interior design services for residential and commercial clients. Decades of experience in creating exceptional environments for the most discriminating clientele makes our company the perfect choice for your home or commercial project.
From residential re-models to new construction and tenant improvements, Pacific Shoreline has the breadth of experience and professional management to make a success of your project and get the most out of your budget.
Pacific Shoreline offers comprehensive services in design and construction and incorporates Green Building practices creating a superior, sustainable and healthier environment for our clients.
To enhance and improve our community by building and designing to our exacting standards according to our values to create an atmosphere beneficial to both the people and the planet, and adding comfort and value to the lives of those we touch.