Architectural paints are used for the interior and exterior finishes of commercial buildings. These are paints called for by builders and architects to safeguard the investment. Architectural paints provide both functional and aesthetic value to the building.
These benefits are countered by a degree of environmental impact and possible health risks. In acknowledgement of these risks, paints are now rated for their volatile organic compound (VOC).
Understand the four elements in paint
Paints consist of four materials; solvents, binders, pigments and additives. The composition of the solvents and the additives contribute to the VOC rating. High levels VOCs can cause severe repercussions, including kidney and liver damage and respiratory issues. In the past, some of the additives in oil-based architectural paints were formaldehyde, benzene and carcinogenic. Other substances such as metals and phthalates were also used by unknowing manufacturers. These materials have been identified as ecosystem and human toxins.
Low level VOC exposure can burn the eyes, nose, throat and skin. Headaches, dizziness and nausea can occur during the application and until the paint dries. Today’s paint manufacturers are very conscientious about VOC ratings and strive to provide materials that meet the lowest possible VOC ratings. The VOC level is at its peak while the paint is in the drying stage.
When VOCs meet the sun’s rays and oxygen in the air, ozone is produced in the form of a subtle but treacherous smog. Ozone attacks the lung tissue and can cause serious injury.
VOC levels are regulated
In established economies, VOC levels are heavily regulated. The goal is to reduce the ozone level. Federal governments, states and local agencies have set strict environmental guidelines for paint manufacturers.
Today’s paint manufacturers have worked diligently to develop environmentally friendly products. The VOC rating of each type paint is now required by governments. Most VOC ratings are posted on the label of the paint container. Painters wear masks to fend off possible health issues and consumers are urged to stay away from painted areas until the paint is completely dry.
Manufacturers have addressed the manufacturing process responsibly. Architects and professional designers are prone to recommend paint manufacturers that they know and trust. The aesthetic qualities and functional qualities of paint have made it a mainstay in architectural planning. Paint colors our buildings, our homes and every place we eat, drink or recreate. The message is clear. Know the VOC level of every paint you purchase and apply and be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. By doing so, you will help make our world a bit more beautiful.