Low- VOC paints, stains and varnishes are the ones, which use water as a carrier instead of petroleum-based solvents. Whereas the Low VOC paints particularly are the paints which contains reduced levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which emit smog-producing pollutants into the air.
Nature: Ever experienced a sense of burning that perturbs the eyes when you enter your newly painted room. This probably land you asserting that the inside air is more polluted than the outside air. The main culprits of this are the Paints and finishes.
Many interior and outdoor paints used today contain high levels of VOCs to help them dry faster. Unfortunately, VOCs emit smog-forming chemicals into the air that are a major contributor to ground-level ozone pollution. They release low-level toxic emissions into the air for years after application. And the major source of these toxins is a variety of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), which, until recently, were essential to the performance of the paint.
This may be the reason as to why the new environmental regulations and consumers demanded an alternative solution. And it is these demands that have led to the development of low-VOC and zero-VOC paints and finishes. Lower VOC paints preserve both indoor and outdoor air quality and reduce the incidence of eye or respiratory irritation from exposure to VOC fumes. Most paint manufacturers now produce one or more non-VOC variety of paint. (However it should be here by noted that the term "non-toxic" is used here in its broadest sense. With paints and finishes, its more a matter of degree. Even Zero-VOC formulations contain some small amounts of toxins).
Types of non-VOC variety of paints are
Natural Paints and Finishes - These are paints made from natural raw ingredients such as water, plant oils and resins, plant dyes and essential oils; natural minerals such as clay, chalk and talcum; milk casein, natural latex, bees wax, earth and mineral dyes. Water-based natural paints give off almost no smell. The oil-based natural paints usually have a pleasant fragrance of citrus or essential oils. Allergies and sensitivities to these paints are uncommon. These paints are the safest for your health and for the environment.
Zero VOC - Any paint with VOCs in the range of 5 grams/liter or less can be called "Zero VOC", according to an EPA standard. Some manufacturers may claim "Zero-VOC`s", but these paints may still use colorants, biocides and fungicides with some VOCs. Adding a color tint usually brings the VOC level up to 10 grams/liter, which is still quite low.
Low VOC - Low VOC paints, stains and varnishes use water as a carrier instead of petroleum-based solvents. As such, the levels of harmful emissions are lower than solvent-borne surface coatings. These certified coatings also contain no, or very low levels, of heavy metals and formaldehyde. The amount of VOCs varies among different "low-VOC" products, and is listed on the paint can. Paints and stains must not contain VOCs in excess of 200 grams per litre. Varnishes must not contain VOCs in excess of 300 grams per liter.
Low VOC paints will still emit an odor until dry. If you are particularly sensitive, make sure the paint you buy contains less than 25 grams/liter of VOC`s.
- Lower levels of ozone pollution.
- Fewer emissions of smog-forming chemicals.
- Proven performance equal to that of conventional paints.
- Low VOC paints are cost competitive.
- No special equipment needed.
- Reduced incidents of eye and respiratory irritation from fewer fumes.
- Better indoor and outdoor air quality.
- Low odor during application, no odor once cured. No off gassing. Painted areas can be occupied sooner, with no odor complaints.
- Cleanup and disposal greatly simplified.
- And last but certainly by no means the least it makes you feel like a responsible citizen.