Nov 29, 2017
by Angela Cummings and Sophia Ruan Gushée
One of the easiest and least expensive ways to freshen up a room is to paint the walls. However, paint can pollute indoor air. Below are tips to help protect both your health and your finances.
Three key things to consider when selecting safer paints are lead, VOCs, and HAPs.
While the US banned lead from house paint in 1978, lead is still found in the painted walls of older homes. And this still contributes to childhood lead poisoning. In fact, an estimated $43 billion is spent on medical and societal costs related to childhood lead poisoning in the U.S., according to Sophia Ruan Gushee’s A to Z of D-Toxing.(1)
No amount of lead is safe for children. Lead can affect all organs, lower IQ, and reduce attention spans among other health challenges.(2)
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is a category of compounds that pose human health risks. For example, the two below are commonly found in paint products.
VOCs can off-gas in the home and contribute to poor indoor air quality. However, most people don't realize that VOCs were studied and regulated mainly for their effects on the outdoor environment: their ability to create ozone and contribute to smog. But, low- and zero- VOC paint products have been interpreted as safer choices for the indoor environment. They may be, but, VOCs have, historically, not been studied for human health impact.
We now know that certain VOCs do pose health concerns.
Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs), on the other hand, have been studied for their effects on human and environmental health. According to a report by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, HAPs have been known to cause headaches, dizziness, difficulty breathing, increased risk of cancer, birth defects, and other harmful effects. As of a 2014 report, the EPA had a list of 188 HAPs.
Most off-gassing occurs when paint is freshly applied. However, VOCs can continue to off-gas for up to 3 ½ years.(5)
The tips below should help reduce the number of VOCs in your home:
Make your painting experience a healthier one by planning ahead. Allow yourself time to select a healthier paint, find out if lead is a concern, and create an overall plan for reducing exposures to VOCs, HAPs, and lead.
(2) (3) (4) A-to-Z of D-Toxing, Works Cited Part 2
Would you like to join a community of like-minded conscious consumers as well?
Do you want to read less about practical nontoxic choices and just see checklists of thoughtful options?
Then join the D-Tox Academy!
Each month, we will "meditate" on a body part or system. The goal is to connect with our body, senses, and symptoms to rely on this curiosity and "listening" as guidance for a gentle, detox journey.
Access Sophia's shopping list for her household staples. They're her favorite low toxic items that she can't live without. Also see which EMF protection products she uses.