LIVING G R EEN
H o w to co n se rv e en erg y
live h ea lth ier
a n d s a v e m o n e y
E c o - f r i e n d l y p a i n t s u s e
p e r f e c t c h e m i s t r y , b u t p ic k in g
o n e is n ’t a n e x a c t s c i e n c e .
If you think choosing a paint color
is challenging, add volatile organic
compounds, or VOCs, to the equation.
Emitted from paint as potentially
harmful gases, these chemicals are
now a hot—and rather complicated-
topic when it comes to indoor air quality.
Manufacturers have developed paints
with reduced VOCs to meet consumer
demand and industry regulations,
which vary across the country.
Not surprisingly, paint comes in many
shades of green. To compare, start with
the VOC content found on paint can labels.
The lower the number, the better. The
number generally accepted for a low-VOC
paint is less than 50 grams per liter; a zero-
VOC paint has fewer than 5 grams per liter.
In general, lower VOC amounts are found
in paint that is latex (rather than alkyd),
with a flat (rather than glossy) sheen, and
is a light color, but individual formula
variations can make it difficult to compare.
In all cases, though, VOC amounts on
labels don’t currently include VOCs in
colorants added at the store.
As with all paints, you have many
options in performance, price, available
colors, and degree of odor. For indepen-
dent certifications and standards, see
a list of available low- and zero-VOC
paints and where to get them, see
BH G.com/ livi nggreen.
g r e e n
w it h
p a in t
■ Buy the minimum amount of paint needed foryour
project to avoid leftovers, even if it means you risk
runningout. Try a sample before buying agallon.
■ Close air vents and open windows, givi ng fumes an |
outside escape route, and al low plenty of dryingtime
before usingthe room; days are betterthan hours.
■ Properly dispose of unused paint (check with your
local recyclingcenter or public works department);
even sealed containers can emit gases.
9 6 SEPTEMBER 2008 BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS
PHOTO: CO RBIS