How to Paint Green with Eco-Friendly, Non Toxic Paints

Delilah Jones
November 3, 2008 — 1,475 views  

Making our dwellings gorgeous is nothing new. Humans have been decorating their homes for millennia. From the Australian Aborigines painting ochre onto cave walls over 40,000 years ago to the almost modern Egyptian pyramids of only 4,500 years ago we all have an innate desire to express ourselves and make our surroundings part of that expression.

But we have always paid a price for this activity. Paints have always contained poisons and toxins that not only pollute the environment but the air within a home. Early paints famously contained lead, which had a sweet flavor tempting for kids to ingest. We all know the horrible affects of these paints that caused problems with developing nervous systems in children and kidney damage, mood changes, memory and high blood pressure in adults.

The ingredients used to make paint can be broken down into four areas -- pigments, solvents, binders and other additives. Color comes from the pigment while the solvent and binder provide the pigment with a base and helps the paint stick to a surface. The remaining additives are used to help the paint dry and prevent mildew from forming.

The solvents and pigments contain toxins, which not only pollute the environment but also, if improperly disposed of in a landfill, can contaminate the surrounding earth for decades. The solvents and pigments also contain volatile organic compounds that we know create smog and pollution in the environment, but can also have very harmful affects on the internal air quality of a home.

Recent government rulings have not only put in to practice some controls on the toxins and VOCs in paints, but has also drawn attention to this scary situation. The response has been for many paint companies to produce eco friendly paints that either contain low or zero VOCs. It should be considered though that the majority of paint companies that create these non toxic paints also manufacture and market toxic and high voc paints -- so when you are looking to paint green you may think about who you are supporting with your dollars.

There are a handful of companies that do not have these legacy issues, and only create eco friendly paint. These non toxic paints range from completely organic 'milk paints' which are totally safe but lack in durability, to high-performance latex based paints that simply lack VOCs and all toxins.

The newest and most modern eco friendly paints can come in any color and, although a little more expensive, have very low odor and zero VOCs. These paints are created in a completely new way, which means that they have all the durability of toxic paints, but without any of the toxins and VOCs. When looking to buy these paints you need to read their labels very carefully. The first thing to notice is if they carry a government warning label. If they do, then they are not completely safe and may contain some VOCs or toxins. Those paints with no warning label and state that they are zero voc paints as opposed to low voc are the best. These can often be found at independent hardware stores nationwide and can be researched online. Beware though, that although some paints may carry 'seals' these don't always mean that they are completely free of VOCs and/or toxins so it is best to always rely on your own investigation and read the label.

About the Author

Delilah Jones is a mother with a passion for zero VOC paint and its impact to consumer safety. She is also interested in how a 100 percent non toxic paint and people safe paint can correlate for baby and pregnant women.

Delilah Jones