Synthetic paint may not be the top choice for those trying to live a greener, healthier lifestyle but sometimes there is a need for them. Many natural and organic products on the market today do not do well in damp or rainy climates or there may be other reasons as well that you can not use the natural paint options on the market. For those that want to use synthetic paint but are still trying to be as eco-friendly as possible, choose synthetics that are the best option for the environment.
Limit the VOCs
VOC is an abbreviation for volatile organic compound, which represents compounds that are released into the air and affect the environment, the air we breath and our health. Many paints have very high VOCs which are continually released over time within our home. Lowering VOCs in the home is especially important because the compounds are contained within the home as opposed to outside where they can dissipate more. VOCs many times are much higher indoors than outdoors and paints are a big cause of this.
Health problems associated with high levels of VOCs include headaches, eye and throat irritation, nausea, damage to liver and kidney. To limit the amount of VOCs while still opting to use synthetic paint, use water based latex paint instead of oil based paints that have much higher VOCs. Also check for paint labeled as “low VOCs” or “no VOCs” and check the label on the back to see how many VOCs are contained in each liter of paint. Preferably you want to stay under 150 grams per liter. With recent news regarding the hazards of VOCs, most paint companies offer a low VOC option.
Avoid Ethylene Glycol
Ethylene glycol is a solvent used in latex paints that can be toxic and hazardous. It is basically the same as anti-freeze. Over time it can cause respiratory problems and may lead to damage to kidneys. When choosing a synthetic paint, check the label and choose one that does not contain ethylene glycol. Also check labels to see if they have an EPA (environmental protection agency) or OSHA (occupational safe and health adminsiatrtion) registration number, this means that the product contains toxic materials that are being monitored by these agencies. This can be confusing but a product that is not registered with these agencies means that it is safe.
Go with Latex Options
As mentioned earlier, one of the pros of using latex paint is that it is water based instead of oil based. If you can find a latex paint with low or no VOCs that also does not contain ethylene glycol, this would be the best synthetic option available. One thing to be aware of when choosing a latex paint is that you want to avoid high levels of vinyl. Most latex paints will have synthetic binders in them, such as acrylic and vinyl. Vinyl is suspected to be a carcinogen and harmful to your health. Latex paints with higher levels of acrylic usually have lower levels of vinyl and some paints use binders that are 100% acrylic with no vinyl.