Using Zero VOC Red Paint in My Living Room to Reduce Hazardous Outgassing
My Inspiring Red Living Room
Using Zero VOC Paint in My Living Room
Our homes are filled with products that are toxic, and one of the worst products is paint. Generally, the paint we use has VOCs - or volatile organic compounds. VOCs are vapors or gases emitted by various solids and liquids. They produce a breathable gas when applied, which diminishes air quality and can be detrimental to our health.
Since we are now more aware of toxic home products and the related health hazards of outgassing, there has been a consumer demand to reduce or eliminate the toxins in paint. Manufacturers have responded in recent years with the introduction of low VOC paint; now there are paints on the American market that have zero VOCs.
The mistake I made:
I made the mistake of using a paint about 14 years ago that made me sick. I bought some white paint locally before I moved into my new place. I figured the paint could freshen up the dingy walls. Instead, it gave me flu symptoms. I had no idea what was going on, except that I was knocked out flat on my bed. An elder cousin called and when I told her what was wrong, knowing that I was moving she asked if I had used cheap paint. I had. She told me such paint can give you flu-like symptoms. Truly, I had no idea. I can't help but to wonder how often we think we have the flu but it is in fact the outgassing of the many toxic products in our home. Vinyl flooring is one source of outgassing and another one of the worst is vinyl shower curtains (see the link below).
I decided it was time to paint my living room a 'writer-inspiring red' (see photo). However, finding a true red zero VOC was not quite as easy. I checked out the zero VOC Freshaire at Home Depot, and checked colors of Mythic Paint online. Many of the paint shades more closely resembled brick or burgundy - I wanted a true, clear, hot red. I thought I would have to use a Benjamin Moore low VOC paint that I used in the past but that line did not have the vivid red either.
Ultimately, the Benjamin Moore brand came through. They have added a number of zero VOC paints to their line with many different colors including a vibrant red; I finally decided on the shade known as Caliente. But then came the issue of which of the zero VOCs to buy. There were at least three kinds. I got my answer by going to a local store and not a chain.
While a major home shopping center was nearby - I did a bit of online research and went to what may have been called, in the past, a mom and pop hardware store. Benjamin Moore prefers to sell from privately owned stores and not massive chains. I'm glad they do because I got a lot of information - and saved money.
The best place to shop:
The paint I had planned to buy was the most expensive ($55.00) because it was a primer and paint in one. The two (good-looking) men at Park Lumber here in Brooklyn took the time to explain quite thoroughly the differences in the zero VOC paints. I wound up purchasing an eggshell finish from the BEN line - and saved about $20.00.
You will see in the picture that my walls have a kind of pattern and texture. This is exactly what I wanted but it came about by accident. I bought a tiny roller and began applying the paint. Because my walls are old plaster I got exactly what I wanted - that old world plastered look - with one coat of paint! If I wanted a smooth solid finish I could have used two coats - which was out of the question as the ceilings are 11 feet high and I had had enough stretching by then. But had I bought the more expensive paint it would have primed the wall and then I would have received a flat even look.
Quality pays - this gallon of paint costs about $35. - and for the two walls in the photo I used less than 1/3 of the gallon. I have more than enough paint in one gallon for my whole living room which is spacious with high ceilings - and will have paint leftover.
I will only use zero VOC paints now. According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) our indoor air is three times more polluted than our outdoor air. Our indoor air is also considered one of the top 5 hazards to human health with paints and finishes being leading causes. These paints and finishes can release low levels of toxic emissions into the air for years after application.
Most conventional paint on the market still contain high levels of VOCs causing us to leave home after painting, opening windows for days, or as one colleague suggested - placing pans of water everywhere (I think it helped back when I used that cheap VOC paint).
Is it really zero VOC?
A paint can be labeled zero VOC if the VOCs are in the range of 5 grams/litre. Some colors like the red I used can bring the VOC level up to 10 grams/litre, but it is still quite low. I was quite satisfied although I did leave my windows open for the day. I never did detect an odor from the paint curing.
There are many benefits to using zero VOC paints:
- they have little or no hazardous fumes and no odor once the paint finish is cured
- the reduced toxins benefit people with allergies and chemical sensitivities, and everyone else
- being water based there is easy clean up with soap and water thus avoiding toxic cleaners
- they reduce contaminants in landfills, in groundwater, are less damaging to the ozone, and disposal is greatly simplified
For more information about the many toxic chemicals in our home, our personal care products and the dangers of a home demolition and renovation - see the links below.
How to Colorwash Inexpensively
- How to Colorwash Walls as Cheaply as Possible!
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Toxicity in the Home
- Health Hazards of Home Demolitions and Renovations
Can't wait to start that demolition job or renovation project? Just know that you can be jeopardizing your health. In fact, the dust created is a known and very serious health hazard.
- Health Warning About Imported Products Containing Le...
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- Why You Should Never Use Vinyl Shower Curtains
Why shouldn't you use vinyl shower curtains? They are cheap, easy to find, and some may even be mildew-resistant. But they are also toxic. Vinyl (PVC - also known as polyvinyl chloride) shower curtains...
- Detox Your Home Naturally, 7 Ways
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Toxic Personal Care Products
- The Ugly Beauty Products
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- The Search for a Safer Nail Polish
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- Are There Any Safe Hair Dyes?
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