Now more than ever before, people are staying at home in order to avoid contracting the worsening coronavirus disease that broke out more than a year ago. The situation made it necessary for families to undertake home improvements to make work-from-home and remote learning conditions more manageable as new norms amidst the pandemic.
While color is the first consideration when it comes to the painting aspect, choosing the type of paint to apply is also important. Mainly because certain types of paint emit indoor air pollution that increases risks of developing lung and heart diseases.
This claim has been supported by a large body of scientific evidence. They were gathered by environmental studies that have identified house paints as one of the major producers of indoor air pollution. The findings were of considerable importance since other researchers were able to link cases of respiratory and cardiac hospitalizations to long term exposure to air pollutants; specifically to the Volatile Organic Compounds released by conventional petrochemical paints.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted its own study, which confirmed the hazards posed by VOCs. Even as the traditional paints dried after applications, chemical cocktails of volatile organic substances are released inside confined spaces. Apparently, family members particularly young children, the elderly and those with existing health disorders, who have been spending nearly 90% of their time indoors, became susceptible to respiratory illnesses and cardiovascular diseases.
Understanding the Health Hazards Posed by VOCs
Interior house paints containing VOCs use a range of chemical substances described as biocides. Like pesticides, biocides are capable of harming or destroying living organisms. The purpose of their use in paints is to fortify the strength and durability of the latex.
Some examples of biocides used as paint ingredients are arsenic disulphide, carbamates, copper, formaldehyde, permethrin, phenol and compounds of quaternary ammonium.
When used outdoors in their many applications, the accumulation of emissions from these VOCs form part of the atmospheric layer of air pollutants destroying the Earth’s ozone layer. When used for home interiors, the accumulation of biocide emissions given off by paints, varnishes and lacquers usually stay and form part of the indoor air inhaled by house or building occupants.
That is why indoor air pollution is regarded as more hazardous than outdoor air pollution because occupants tend to breathe them in all the time.
Paint experts from the Masters Painters Association explained that the accumulation of VOC emissions can cause irritations to the eyes, nose, throat and in serious cases, the lungs. Lung irritations tend to reduce a person’s breathing capacity, leading to susceptibility to infections especially in children, elderly folks and those with impaired health conditions.
Availability of Health and Environment-Friendly Paint Choices
The good news is that there are now health- and environment-friendly paints available as choices, In fact the range of color choices have become broader as paint types now include various options for custom finish painting.
While the major paint manufacturers still produce petrochemical paints, they are now into producing Low VOC or No VOC paints as alternative choices. Others offer purely “green” paints not as a choice of color. but as paint applications using only natural ingredients.
Low VOC Paints contain chemical compounds that produce lower emissions, compared to the high levels of VOCs given off by conventional petrochemical paints.
No VOC Paints do not use volatile organic compounds as primary ingredients. However, it does not necessarily mean they no longer contain harmful chemicals as some still use minimal amounts of chemical compounds in their paint tinting processes.
Natural Paints are “green” products because their composition use only naturally occurring substances derived from plants. As such, they do not require high levels of manufacturing processes.
Touted as environment friendly, natural paints use only ingredients derived from renewable resources like citrus or linseed oil among many other plants that provide natural solvents and binders. Moreover natural paints are regarded as health-friendly as they have been tested as well-tolerated by humans.