What are VOCs?
VOCs, aka Volatile Organic Compounds, use a variety of chemicals. Some of these may have short and long-term effects on a person’s health. They are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. Many VOCs are human made chemicals that we use to manufacture paints, pharmaceuticals, petroleum and more. They contain carbon and can evaporate easily at room temperature and enter the air we breathe.
Some of the more commonly known VOCs are
- Benzene (in cigarette smoke)
- Formaldehyde (in building materials
- Tourlene, acetone, methylethyl and ethyl acetate (all found in paint)
VOCs are more highly concentrated indoors than outdoors . The products not only release VOCs when they’re being used but can also release them, to a lesser degree, when being stored.
Possible Health Effects
Organic chemicals can cause health effects in a wide variety and those effects vary greatly depending on the toxicity of the checmical. Soon after exposure, some people report eye and respiratory tract infections or irritations, headaches, dizziness, visual problems, and memory impairment. Prolonged exposure has been linked to some cancers such as lymphoma and leukemia.
Paint is not the only source of VOCs
Volatile Organic Compounds are found in a wide variety of items including paint and cleaning supplies. They’re also in pesticides, building materials and furniture and office products like copies and printers and permanent markers.
How to reduce exposure?
- Increase ventilation when using products that have VOcs.
- Don’t store the open containers in your home. Try to get rid of them as soon as possible especially if they are old or not going to be used again.
- Please keep them out of range of children and the elderly.
- Don’t mix household care products unless directed on the label.
- Follow label instructions carefully and only buy limited quantities so there’s not much waste.
Are there VOC-free paints?
Some paints certainly make the claim that they are VOC-free, but whether that is true or not, remains to be seen. For now, it’s safer to assume that there are at least some VOCs in your paint and open windows accordingly while painting. It will make you safer in the long-run. Unfortunately, there is no national regulation system. Some states, like California are more stringent about VOC production in their products, particularly paints. Try to buy the low to no-VOC paints as they have the least amount of them. Read MSDS data sheets.
It’s the best you can do for yourself and your family.
21st Century Painting works with vendors that have low to no-VOCS like Sherwin Williams, Pittsburgh Paints, Benjamin Moore and Kelly Moore paints. Call us today at (52) 219-0342 to set up a scheduled painting. We’d love to hear from you!