One of the easiest ways to spice up the look of your home is by changing the color of your walls or by simply adding a fresh coat of paint. But why does paint always give off that toxic smell? Most conventional paints have binding agents that contain volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, carbon-based chemicals that emit vapors at room temperatures. These vapors give off a strong odor and are a hazard to both human health and outdoor air quality. According to the U.S. EPA, they are known to cause everything from dizziness to cancer.
When deciding to paint your home, opt for low-VOC paints, which contain significantly lower levels of VOCs; zero-VOC paints, which typically have less than 5 grams of VOCs per liter; or other natural paints, including milk-based and water-based paints. Low-VOC is often a broadly interpreted term, so it is important to check the label of the paint for the exact VOC content, which should be less than 160 grams per liter.
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Did you know that VOCs may be a source of chemical carcinogens?
cause nausea, minor irritation and kidney, liver and nervous system damage. In addition, some VOCs (the source of
“new-car smell”) contain toxic chemicals, including toluene, a suspected carcinogen.