A growing number of paint manufacturers have made a united effort to minimizing the negative impact of chemicals on the environment and health. What the difference between conventional and eco-friendly paints is, what chemicals pose a greatest threat to the environment and health and what types of eco-friendly paints can be found on the market is the topic of the article.
Conventional paints consist of four types of materials: solvents, binders, pigments and additives. Even though all of these materials can contain toxic substances, VOCs (volatile organic compounds) found in solvents have the most damaging impact on the environment and our health. Conventional paints can be grouped into oil-based and water-based paints. Oil-based paints contain the highest percent of VOCs. Finally, one litre of conventional paint can result in up to 30 litres of toxic waste.
What are VOCs?
VOCs are chemicals which contain carbon and which are emitted from paints. When it comes to the environment, VOCs contribute to the climate change as they react with oxygen in the air producing ozone. Furthermore, the long- and short-term exposure by breathing VOCs can cause harm to your health. Some of the VOCs are human carcinogen. Examples of VOCs include benzene, formaldehyde, toluene, xylene, styrene and perchloroethylene.
A brief overview of conventional paints was needed in order for you to better understand why eco-friendly paints are the best option. Generally speaking, environmentally-friendly paints do not contain toxic chemicals (or contain them in the lowest amounts), which are harmful to the environment and health. The regulation of what goes into an eco-friendly products is needed.
The Good Environmental Choice Australia, an independent and non-profit Eco-labelling program is the only Australian member of the Global Eco-labelling Network. According to their Environmental Performance Standard, there are chemicals which must not be used in the manufacturing of paints and there are limits which must not be exceeded for a paint to be labelled eco-friendly. To put it simply, eco-friendly paints must not contain or be manufactured using formaldehyde, phthalates, isoaliphates, 1.3 butadiene, bisphenol A, toluene and toluene compounds, crystalline quartz silica, alkylphenolic compounds, heavy metals or biocides.
Types of Eco-friendly paints
Knowing that our goal here is to find finding the best interior paint, let’s learn something about the types of those eco-friendly ones. There are three common types of non-toxic paints: natural paints, zero-VOC and low-VOC paints. Natural paints are manufactured using the following ingredients: water, plant oils and resins, milk casein, natural latex, bees’ wax, plant, earth and mineral dyes, essential oils, natural minerals including clay, chalk and talcum. They can be water- and oil-based. Water-based paints do not give off smell,while oil-based ones contain essential oils. Paints which contain the minimal percent of VOCs can be called zero-VOC paints. A zero-VOC paint has fewer than 5 grams per litre of VOCs. Low-VOC paints have less than 50 grams per litre of VOCs. These types of paints use water as a solvent. The levels of harmful chemicals is significantly lowered.Benefits of Eco-friendly paints
Eco-friendly paints do not pose a threat to the health, especially with people with allergies and chemical sensitivities, nor to the environment. They provide easy clean-up and disposal. There is no odour, or the odour is minimized. The quality of Eco-friendly paints is the same as the quality of conventional paints. You can expect good coverage, hideability and scrubbability.Each and every one of us should strive towards the cleaner planet. Starting from eco-friendly paints is a good beginning.