What Are VOCs in Paint? 

- Ed from Dewey

VOCs are carbon compounds (Volatile Organic Compound). Paint products usually produce approximately 9% of VOC emissions, making paint the second-largest source of VOC emissions after the automobile. For people that have chemical sensitivities, paint can cause respiratory, skin, eye irritations, headaches, and more. If you are looking for paint with low or zero VOCs, look for paints that are Green Seal certified, or paints that have Scientific Certifications. Normally, paints that are lower in VOCs, have low-odor are considered premium paints and do cost more. To be certified by Green Seal flat paints cannot contain more than 50 grams per liter of VOC and non-flat paints cannot contain more than 100 grams per liter. Latex paints have lower levels of VOCs because they use water instead of petroleum-based solvents and most latex paints can be used for most household applications. Another key point in looking at the VOC level, make sure the VOC levels are measured after the paint tint is added. Pigment does contribute to paint’s VOC emissions significantly. Most of the latex paint is sold as a white base paint and then pigments are added to create the color. VOC emissions will be higher due to pigments added. The deeper the hue, the more pigment, and the more VOC’s.

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