I was reading the latest “Specs + Spaces” from Dunn-Edwards about natural healing effects of paint colors. After skimming through the pages, I noticed that the word “VOC” appeared at least once in every article. I know I’ve heard the term before, as most of you have, but other than it being something I want to avoid in my paint, I really didn’t know much more about it. I found out that “VOC” stands for “Volatile Organic Compound.” According to several websites, VOCs can be man-made or naturally occurring chemical compounds. However, in the paint industry, VOCs are generally man-made. The compounds will off-gas (produce vapors) over time which is not immediately toxic, but may have chronic effects over time. Thinking about how much we’re inside having clean air with low or no VOCs is important, especially for children and elderly who are more susceptible to the effects of VOCs, .
A major source of man-made VOCs are solvents in paints which are required to spread the protective or decorative film. Approximately 12 billion liters of paints are produced annually. Typical solvents are aliphatic hydrocarbons, ethyl acetate, glycol ethers, and acetone. Paint companies, including Dunn Edwards, are moving toward creating more water-based products with low or no VOCs. I don’t want to scare anyone about VOCs because really they have always been all around us, but if we can lower the VOCs within our indoor environments, we’ll all be better off. So, the next time you see the “no VOCs” label, you’ll know what that means for you, the consumer! Happy painting!