I want to answer your questions about Environmentally Friendly Paints and give you some safe eco-friendly painting tips that may be especially important to your baby and children.
Dangers of Traditional Paints:
Growing up I always knew that house paint did not smell good but I didn’t realize exactly what that smell meant. The smell that many paints give off is actually from volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are escaping into the air. According to the EPA, “VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects.” This means that painting your house can greatly increase the indoor air pollutants. If you are thinking, you will open just up some windows to avoid this hazard, then consider that elevated chemical concentrations can persist in the air long after the activity of painting is completed. In fact, paints can release low levels of toxic emissions for years!
Another point to consider is that VOCs present an even greater threat to children and babies. Babies tend to be particularly exposed because everyone always wants to paint the nursery in excitement (I know I did!). However, “Exposure to toxic air contaminants during infancy or childhood could affect the development of the respiratory, nervous, endocrine and immune systems, and could increase the risk of cancer later in life.” http://oehha.ca.gov/public_info/facts/airkids.html
Zero VOC Paints are more Environmentally Friendly Paints:
There is great news though. There are many new environmentally friendly paints that are no VOC paints! Many manufacturers have recently come out with their own line of zero VOC paints which are proving to be durable and less harmful to our health and environment. There is no odor and no off-gasing with zero VOC paints and they help reduce landfill, groundwater, and ozone contaminants. These new no VOC paints are great for everyone but a must for people with allergies, chemical sensitivities, or with children and babies.
Safe Eco-Friendly Painting Tips:
There are a couple more things to consider before you begin painting. Paint older than 1978 may contain lead and should not be sanded (thereby released into the air) without first testing a sample. If you have old paints that you choose not to use because you want to use no VOC paint in your house, then it is important to dispose of it in an eco-friendly manner. Charities such as Habitat for Humanity may be glad to put your old paint to good use. Also don’t buy more than you need, calculate the area to be painted and know that one gallon should paint about 400 square feet.
We used no VOC paint for our children’s bunk bed and I am so pleased with how well it has held up even on the high traffic ladder. Have you tried no VOC paint yet?