There’s much more to choosing a paint than picking the perfect colour. Paints can vary by gloss, durability, and even eco-friendliness. Not all shades of green are good for the environment.
Recently, people have become increasingly aware of the risks posed by volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in commercial paint. Volatile organic compounds are carbon-based solvents that get released into the air and react with other elements. They’re there for a reason: VOCs help make paint spreadable and allow it to stick to your walls. But VOCs aren’t good for the environment or for people, as they contribute to air pollution and can lead to a variety of health issues, including breathing issues, headaches, watery eyes, and nausea. Some volatile organic compounds have been linked to a risk of cancer.
Recognizing the demand for safer alternatives, many paint companies have jumped on board the eco-friendly movement and started offering low-VOC or VOC-free paints. This is great news for painters and do-it-yourselfers. However, it’s important to make sure the green paint you’re buying actually lives up to the name.
Recently, the United States Federal Trade Commission caught four major paint companies promoting eco-friendly paints without the facts to back it up. The guilty brands were Benjamin Moore, ICP Construction, YOLO Colorhouse, and Imperial Paints.
According to the FTC, these companies had no evidence to support claims that their products were emission-free or contained zero volatile organic compound. Some made explicit claims their paints were safe for babies, pregnant women, and other groups sensitive to air pollution. A few even had photos of babies and pregnant women right on the packaging! No wonder the culprits were slapped with charges.
As consumers, it’s unnerving to know companies would try to get away with this kind of deception. Fortunately, there are ways to double-check whether the paint you’re buying is truly free from potentially dangerous solvents. Paints with an official green seal certification are guaranteed to have been tested on their claims.
It’s also important to do your research when it comes to any claims about VOC content in paints. Sometimes, a paint only one VOC free during application, not after drying. Other times, the paint contains traces of VOCs. If you’re looking for a paint that’s truly safe and eco-friendly, read the fine print on the can.