When you grab a bucket of paint for a new look for your home, it never really crosses your mind any gas that gets released from the paint. These are what are known as “VOCs,” or volatile organic compounds. Volatile organic compounds are released into the air when paint dries. Too much volatile organic compounds, you can imagine, is not the best thing to be breathing in.
VOCs and Health Problems
If you are an individual that has chemical sensitivities, then you should look to buy paint that has VOC levels less than 500 PPB, or “parts per billion,” as far away from 500 as you can, according to CBC Marketplace. Many health problems VOCs aggravate are generally of the allergen kind. Some have been linked to carcinogens.
It has been shown that harmful organics floating in the air are two to give times higher while you are indoors rather than outside. That kind of concentration, you could imagine, has led to health problems. For example, Sweden’s Dampness in Buildings and Health study found a link between PGE concentrations and health issues. They found that the top 25 percent of children’s rooms with higher PGE concentrations, has a higher likelihood of asthma, eczema and rhinitis, 100 percent, 150 percent and 320 percent, respectively.
Furthermore, the same group, Sweden’s Dampness in Buildings and Health, led another study that found a link between children with allergic symptoms already and PGE-exposure. Their results shown that these children had twice the likelihood of developing more allergic sensitivities as well as other allergens.
What You Can Do
Your main course of action is to simply switch to non-toxic wall paint, health-focused paints and wood stains for walls and floors, and even eco friendly glue. And do not worry about walls and floors already painted. If they are at least a year old, their VOCs would have left already. However, if you plan on painting your floors with wood stains, or installing new ones, it would not be a bad idea at all to find wood stains that are VOC-free, or rather, paint that is at least 50 g/l (grams per liter). But really, less is better.
When you find yourself choosing a new paint, focus on what the composition is. When you take home that VOC-free paint, it does not hurt to go a step further by opening a window while you paint. You wouldn’t want to give yourself a headache smelling paint.