Let’s look at conventional paints


Today we will discuss VOC’s in coatings:

Here are just a few facts about conventional paints and VOC’s that most people are unaware of.

  1. Almost every conventional latex acrylic paint out there with the exception of one or two have cancer causing hazardous preservatives in them.
  1. Almost all conventional latex acrylic paints contain benzine and toluene, both known are federally regulated known carcinogens which will cause cancer.
  1. All primers on the market today with the exception of one paint contain benzine and toluene, both are federally known carcinogens which will cause cancer.
  1. Most latex acrylic paints contain heavy metal dryers which are also federally regulated known carcinogens which will cause cancer.
  1. What is a VOC?
  1. We know it stand for Volatile Organic Compounds, but what exactly is that?

i.      A VOC as defined by the EPA is a compound that gasses off at room temperature or at a heated temperature less than 120 degrees F.

ii.      A VOC as pointed out by the EPA is one that will deplete OZON when gassed off into the atmosphere.

iii.      A VOC as pointed out by the EPA can also be harmful to personal health.

iv.      Are VOC’s only in paints?

  1. No. They are found in air fresheners, perfumes and cleaners too.
  1. Are all VOC’s bad for you and/or the environment?

i.      NO: Petrochemical and many other VOC’s are harmful, but there are also some non-petrochemical VOS’s that are not. Or are not known at this time, as testing has not yet to be performed to show they deplete Ozon or are harmful to humans.

  1. The word ZERO VOC does not mean there are no VOCs in the product, only that they are below EPA regulated limits.
  1. Examples: Latex Acrylic interior paint bases only have to be at < 15 g/l of VOCs, but at 5 g/l they can be called zero VOC
  1. Conventional Tint / Colorants for paints have to be below 180 g/l (Compliant), but can be called zero VOC if at or below 150 g/l.
  1. This means if I want a really deep color like a bring or dark blue, red, yellow, green or whatever, the actual VOCs of that paint base with the color added could be as high as 150 g/l of VOCs.
  1. In fact, most commercial paints called zero VOC paints have not even been properly tested for VOCs. The best methods is through C14, C18 and ASTM D6886 as these tell the complete truth. Most use methyl palmitate which has a hard time reading VOC levels accurately in a water immiscible material.
  1. Are there any safe VOCs?
  1. Actually, yes. The key is a VOC which is dangerous if it does either of the following things.

i.      One depletes Ozon

ii.      Two is harmful to human health

  1. Although tree sap will register as a VOC, it is not classified as a hazardous VOC. All testing is inconclusive as to its ability to harm the Ozon, although in high levels of burning tree sap and breathing it in, the smoke can be a health hazard; but this is more due to the sap coating the lungs.
  1. Same goes for materials like Soy or coconut ester oils. But the best part is it takes a lot more heat to get these materials to start off gassing VOCs. Petrochemicals normally start around 80 degrees F, where these plant materials do not start until around 160 to 200 degrees F.



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