What you Don’t Know Will Hurt You
Following is a list of common toxic ingredients found in O VOC paints and standard paints that are not regulated as VOC’s:
- Ethylene Glycol- used as a wetting agent in a majority of paints. The replacement for Ethylene Glycol that is safer is Propylene Glycol which is still a VOC but not regulated and is FDA approved as a food grade product.
- Ethanol- a form of alcohol which the body has difficulty processing
- Ammonia- EPA says it is exempt because it is not a smog-forming ingredient yet it is used in most toxic solvents.
- Acetone- causes respiratory problems including headaches and dizziness
- Biocides- added to inhibit growth of microorganisms in a finish can and on the actual surface the finish is going on. These toxins can contribute to the formation of formaldehyde if used indoors are hazardous to your health.
- Formaldehyde (in the aldehyde family) (see definition above) – commonly created by 2 or more mutually reactive chemicals. Formaldehyde is no longer added to paints but is commonly created when the curing process happens. It is a human carcinogen.
Note: There are other toxic aldehydes like Propanols which are known to cause auto immune response problems as they bind to the lungs and liver.
- Crystalline Silica- quartz that is used in many finishes and is considered a hazardous occupational dust (inhalant)
- Masking Agents- presently a very popular addition to the mainstream green industry, are added to conceal the odors of offensive chemicals – so adverse effects from NON ODOROUS “green” building materials can still be prevalent
- Pigments- refer to the pigment section below for clarification on this ingredient
The best and easiest solution to avoiding the greenwashing or dishonest feel good labeling common to this toxin is to purchase only from smaller companies that are really health minded. In other words, their focus and reason for forming their company is for the health of the consumer and the planet in general, rather than the bottom line greed that larger mainstream corporations and companies have a tendency to operate from.
There are some big names in the green products industry that create a healthier product, but they may have more mainstream products they also sell. While most companies are pretty protective of their recipes for theft reasons, they should be able to speak with you personally about the actual ingredients in their products. Do not be afraid to ask. Know the truth about what you are adding to the indoor air of your home. It is your right and responsibility to know.