On Chemical Sensitivity And VOCs, Opt For Non Toxic Interior Paint
Home redecoration is no small task. Refurbishing and rearrangement of household items aside, there is also color palette to consider. When redecorating, according to a survey conducted in 2017 on interior design trends, over a third of participants stated that they would choose a neutral color palette. As expected, this would likely require some wall repainting.
The customer’s best bet for picking out paint that results in a safe, quality painting job? Opting for VOC free, eco friendly paint. Non toxic interior paint will always be your best bet when decorating your home.
What Are VOCs? Why should I avoid VOCs?
The contraction VOC stands for volatile organic compound, organic chemicals that are abundant, diverse, and ubiquitous. They exist in the form of gases from either solids or liquids and are used widely as ingredients among household products – paint, varnish, wax, cleaning products, disinfectants, cosmetics, repellents, air fresheners, fuels, pesticides, craft materials, amongst others.
All these contain organic chemicals, and all release organic compounds, both while in use and sometimes while stored.
Unfortunately, their presence sometimes results in adverse health effects, both short and long-term. VOC concentrations can be up to ten times higher in indoor environments than outdoors. Then, when it comes to certain activities – such as paint stripping – immediately afterwards, levels may be up to 1,000 times higher. On average however, levels are two to five times higher. Regardless, when inhaled, some organic chemicals contribute to health issues.
Symptoms may be very mild, similar to an allergic reaction. However, they may become increasingly severe – headaches, nausea, loss of coordination, damage to internal organs – such as the liver and kidney – and to the central nervous system. Some may even cause cancer.
In a recent study, participants spent six work days in an environmentally-controlled office space at the TIEQ lab at the Syracuse Center of Excellence. VOC levels were reduced to approximately 50 micrograms per cubic meter and 40 cubic feet per minute of outdoor air per person. On average, cognitive scores were 101% higher. VOCs affect even productivity and cognitive performance.
While VOC levels lower over time – for example, in flooring over a year old, much of the VOCs will have dissipated – installing new flooring or repainting areas (unless using non toxic interior paint) reintroduces those organic compounds.
VOC concentrations over 500 ppb – parts per billion, a measure of mass units of a contaminant – may cause problems for those with chemical sensitivity, according to a report by CBC Marketplace.
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
Multiple chemical sensitivity may also be known as “environmental illness,” as symptoms are often set off by environmental factors, ie. perfumes, smoke, tobacco, exhaust, insecticides, etc.
The body’s immune response is comparable to an allergic reaction. Many symptoms are similar, as if in response to allergens. The difference, however, is that allergens are typically harmless substances, while multiple chemical sensitivity is set off by potentially harmful chemicals.
As listed by WebMD, symptoms include: “headache, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, congestion, itching, sneezing, sore throat, chest pain, changes in heart rhythm, breathing problems, muscle pain or stiffness, skin rash, diarrhea, bloating, gas, confusion, trouble concentration, memory problems, and mood changes.”
Opting for non toxic interior paint – meaning low VOC, or even better, VOC free paint – amongst other household products would help to avoid negative health effects. Even so, there are steps that can be taken to reduce exposure, including:
- Increasing ventilation while using products containing VOCs
- Following product label precautions and manufacturer directions
- Avoiding storage of open paint containers and other materials
- Opting for other pest management techniques over pesticides
- Buying in limited quantities that will be used soon
- Safely throwing away containers of old or unnecessary chemicals
Opt For Non Toxic Interior Paint
While reactions to VOCs may manifest simple as mild allergic symptoms, they may also manifest much more severe long-term damage to the body.
In order to avoid the negative health effects from VOCs, it would be best to choose non toxic wall paint when redecorating the home. It would not be enough to choose the best paint for the job in terms of color, coverage, low odor, etc. Low VOC and VOC free paints are ideal in avoiding immune system response to these contaminants.