VOC is an abbreviation for “volatile organic compound.” VOCs may be found in various building products and are partly to blame for that new paint odor. Unfortunately, these unstable compounds emit fumes that are highly hazardous to humans and the environment, which is why the government has begun to regulate them. Because VOCs are prevalent in paints, they may accumulate quite a bit in the home. “Studies have indicated that levels of VOCs average two to five times greater indoors than outdoors,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
When breathed in, VOCs can cause various health issues, including airway irritation, headaches, nausea, and even damage to the central nervous system, kidneys, and liver. To help reduce your exposure, if feasible, utilize products with low levels of VOCs. Although most VOCs evaporate when the paint dries, not all of them do. In reality, paint can emit VOCs into the air for years after being applied, putting your family in danger.
VOCs are hazardous for several reasons. To begin with, many VOCs are recognized carcinogens. For example, a standard bucket of paint contains chemicals that have been linked to cancer, such as benzene, methylene chloride, and others [source: United States Environmental Protection Agency].
VOCs also induce headaches after you paint. Furthermore, over time, the VOCs in the air in your house might increase your or a family member’s chance of getting asthma or allergies.
So, why are VOCs in the paint at all if they’re so bad for you, and are there any alternatives?
Why Does the Presence of VOCs in Paint Matter?
VOCs are frequently invisible and odorless, and they can continue to emit harmful substances for years. Paint is the world’s leading producer of VOC emissions, trailing only cars. VOCs in your home harm the air in your home, soak into carpets and furniture, and can even escape and poison the air in your neighborhood.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) believes that the items we select to bring inside our homes significantly reduce our indoor air quality. These items are said to contribute to VOC levels two to five times greater than the air immediately outside your door.
The Clean Air Act tries to enhance air quality by reducing the quantity of VOCs allowed in paint and other goods. For example, the EPA restricts paint to 250 grams of VOCs per liter of flat paint and no more than 380 grams of VOCs per liter of low luster, semi-gloss, and glossy paints under this legislation.
What exactly is low or no-VOC paint?
Low and no-VOC paints are safer paint alternatives that have been deliberately developed to contain few or no VOCs. These coatings reduce or eliminate hazardous off-gassing, which keeps everyone safer and healthier.
Some producers have opted to employ an earth-friendly foundation for their paints, such as plant oils, while others have chosen to eliminate the hazardous VOCs from current paints. According to Greenguard, paint should contain less than 50 grams of VOCs per liter to qualify as low-VOC paint and less than 5 grams per liter for paints claiming zero VOCs.
Prices for low and zero-VOC paints have dropped significantly as more manufacturers produce safer paints. As a result, they are a feasible alternative even for low-budget home remodeling tasks. Many paint retailers will also provide you with low and zero-VOC paint samples so you can test how they dry and hold up in your house.
How Long Does Low-VOC Paint Take to Off gas?
The duration and severity of paint-related off-gassing are determined mainly by the type of paint used, the time it takes the paint to cure and dry, and the number of coats applied. Most latex paints, for example, off-gas for three to five years but can last up to ten.
Off-gassing is most noticeable during and soon following the application of paint to a surface. You’re acquainted with the scent of paint if you’ve ever painted before. That odor indicates that paint is off-gassing . But, even yet, it will continue to emit poisons into the air long after the smell has faded. Unfortunately, there is not a way to completely eliminate off-gassing unless the process can be sped significantly by utilizing 100 percent zero-VOC paint.
How Can You Accelerate Off-Gassing?
It’s generally a good idea to let interior paint dry completely before moving in. However, for many of us, this is not an option. If staying with friends, relatives, or in a motel is not an option, there are some things you can do to help paint dry and off-gas faster.
Promote Proper Ventilation
Paint will dry faster in a well-ventilated space. Leave the windows open when painting and for as long as possible while the paint dries. You may also keep a fan going to help things move forward even faster. Avoid doors locked while painting a single room to keep VOCs from spreading throughout your home.
User Proper Air Filtration Products
All air filters are not created equally, however they are intended to remove dust from the air in the home and workplace. Volatile organic compounds, which are exceedingly dangerous to your health, are routinely emitted into the air while using household cleaning solutions, paint and everyday items that most of us do not think about as dangerous. These contaminants can be removed from the air by using a high quality filter with a MERV value of 13 and above. If you or someone in your family has a chronic ailment that weakens the immune system, it is recommended to use filtration that helps to improve the air quality.
Introduce Heat to Speed Up the Process
When you’re through painting, you might want to turn on a heater to speed up the evaporation of off-gassing VOCs. But, of course, running the heat with the windows open is inefficient, so set a timer to turn the heat off.
Reduce Indoor Humidity
In dry air, the paint dries and cures faster. If you’re painting on a humid day, try running a dehumidifier in the room to speed up off-gassing. If you use a humidifier or other device to enhance indoor humidity regularly, make sure to turn it off when painting.
Clean the Air
While air purification will not speed up off-gassing, it will assist in eliminating VOCs from the air as they are emitted. If you have an air purifier, leave it running while the paint dries and for many days after that. You may also add indoor plants to the area to assist the VOCs absorb faster. Boston Ferns, English Ivy, Peace Lilies, and Variegated Snake Plants are popular air-filtering indoor plants.
Is it possible to get non-toxic spray paint?
Some individuals prefer spray paint for minor jobs such as furniture. If this describes you, seek low or zero VOC spray paints. However, they might be challenging to locate, and spray paint should be avoided if you want to keep your room low-VOC.
Selecting Low- or No-VOC Paint
As our understanding of VOCs expands, more low and zero-VOC paints hit the market. Here are a few examples of low and no-VOC paints now available. Behr, Para and Farrow & Ball all create low VOC options. This is not an exhaustive list and it is important to always check labels before you buy paint. Make sure to check the label for third-party certifications and ingredient lists. Additionally, if you are looking for no VOC options, the following are a few brands that have options you may want to check out: AFM Safecoat, Benjamin Moore, Behr, and Sherwin Williams.
What do low VOC paint requirements entail?
A low VOC paint typically contains less than 50 grams of VOC per liter for flat and non-flat sheens.
Why are VOCs hazardous?
Volatile Organic Compounds are carcinogenic and toxic. Furthermore, as they are discharged, they collide with the gases in the air, causing environmental harm.
How long do VOCs remain in the air after painting?
Volatile Organic Compounds evaporate swiftly from paint, lasting just six months after application.
What is a VOC safe level?
Experts agree that a level of 0.3 to 0.5 mg/m3 is safe.
Do VOCs in paint dissipate?
The majority of Volatile Organic Compounds evaporate rapidly from paint on their own. However, they will continue to leak gas slowly for many years.
Thanks for Reading!
We hope you found our article on house paint and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) informative! At Filti it is our mission to provide quality filtration products to help keep everyone safe. Whether for your home or your business, Filti has a filter solution that is the perfect fit! Contact us or visit us online to learn more about our mission, and our products!