Your Guide to Low VOC and Non-Toxic Paint for Eco Friendly Houses

This guide to buying low VOC, Non Toxic Paint aims to provide you with the tools you need to make the best purchasing decision.

Maybe you’ve been planning on turning the spare bedroom or unused dining room into a cool home-office. You’ve brought home the paint sample pages and have chosen the colour. But there are so many choices of paint and you’ve heard that you need to low VOC paints for your family’s health.

Why low VOC paint is important for you and the planet

What exactly are VOCs?  They’re volatile organic compounds which, when released from products like paint, carpeting, furniture and scented air fresheners, contribute to ozone and smog formation. These gases are released from traditional paint as it dries (sometimes for months) and include harmful chemicals like toluene, benzene, vinyl chloride, mercury, ethylene glycol, cadmium, chromium, and formaldehyde.

Because of these harmful chemicals, VOCs in paint are related to many health problems, including:

  • Allergic skin reaction
  • Cancer
  • Conjunctival irritation
  • Dizziness
  • Dyspnea
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Liver and kidney damage
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea
  • Noise and throat discomfort
  • Nosebleeds
  • Vomiting


What is low VOC paint and how is it measured?

There are government standards for VOC limits in low VOC paint products measured in grams per liter (g/l).

By law, manufacturers are permitted to allow higher levels of VOCs in glossy paints, which is something you may wish to keep in mind as you choose the finish for your paint selection.

The problem with these measuring systems is that they apply to the base only, and not to the tint. So even if you purchase a low VOC base paint, you could be adding significant VOCs to your paint if you select a high-VOC tint. So keep in mind that usually the darker the paint tint, the higher the VOC levels.

Tips on choosing the best low VOC paint

Here’s a checklist of how to go about buying low VOC paint:

  • Go for paints with a low VOC certification
  • Choose paints made from natural ingredients
  • Look for paints with the lowest VOC content (something below 50 g/l ideally)
  • Check the label for solids content (between 25% and 45%), the higher the better
  • Also check labels for VOC levels in tints
  • Of course, Nutshell Paints meets all these requirements


Natural paints - eco-friendly and non toxic paints

In addition to looking for paints that come with a seal of approval for indoor air quality, you may also wish to look into natural paints made from biodegradable and plant-based ingredients rather than harmful chemicals. Non-toxic paint options often include ingredients like plant pigments, clay, milk, minerals, and other natural ingredients.

Of course, paint performance is another important factor when purchasing paint. Nutshell Paints are low VOC paint which scores highly for performance.

Low VOC, eco-friendly paint strippers

Your home renovation project might stripping paint from a room. Although tedious, this is important where you have old lead-based paints to get rid of, as these are harmful to your health. You’ll want to select a low VOC paint stripper for the job. Conventional paint strippers work by melting the paint, using active ingredients like methylene chloride (a carcinogen). A more natural paint stripper option will be made of water-soluble, non-toxic ingredients such as the organic solvent N-Methylpyrrolidone.

Although these eco-friendly paint strippers require a little more work and time to get the job done, you’ll be rewarded with a less polluted home and a headache-free result.

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