Is Low VOC Paint Always Environmentally Safe?

June 17, 2015

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Not necessarily.

As more companies consider using “green” coatings, or environmentally friendly coatings, it is necessary to understand why low VOC coatings are usually considered green alternatives.

VOC stands for volatile organic compounds, which have historically been a large part of a coating’s makeup. These are harmful chemicals that will outgas (be released) into the facility and the environment as the paint cures.

There are two ways to measure or rate VOC levels in coatings. One way is to measure the actual amount of VOCs contained in the paint. The other is to measure the amount of VOCs which are released by the paint or coating into the air.

Which brings us back to the original question: “Can a low VOC paint still be harmful?” Yes. If the paint is low VOC but releases a high percentage in outgassing, it could be less than green. Sometimes colorants added to the paint can result in outgassing. Even the chemically reactive process of some paint systems can release harmful VOCs.

So how can you know what is truly a “green” coating? Look for third party certification of the coating being utilized. One such certification is the UL Environment’s GREENGUARD Certification. If a coating has the GREENGUARD certification on the label, you can be confident that it has been rigorously tested with respect to the VOCs actually released into the air.

This makes for safer and healthier indoor and outdoor air quality.

Why not discuss a green painting alternative with your painting professional when it is time to renovate your facility?

Questions or comments?

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