Do You Know What’s In Your Home’s Paint? The Answer Could Be Putting Your Health at Risk


How safe is the paint and varnish that covers your home’s interior and exterior?

By now, most people know about the lead paint crisis. But while regulations have changed to prohibit paint producers from using lead in their paint, the truth is that many paints still contain a laundry list of harmful chemicals that are especially dangerous when a fresh coat is laid down. Called volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, these chemicals emit toxic fumes as the product dries. For people with allergies or chemical sensitivities, such fumes can be especially harmful to one’s health.

Still not convinced that VOCs are a problem? Here are more facts you should know about the chemicals that may be residing in your paint and varnish:

VOCs are proven to be toxic

Research has shown that VOC fumes contain a long list of dangerous substances, including formaldehyde, ethyl acetate, xylene and more. These emissions are typically strongest while the paint is drying, but VOC emissions can continue for weeks or longer.

VOCs are harmful to our health

Even if you aren’t chemically sensitive, the chances that you’ll be negatively effected by VOC emissions isn’t something to ignore. Exposure to high levels of VOCs has been shown to cause eye, nose and throat irritation; nausea; headaches; dizziness and even impaired memory. For those with chemical sensitivities or allergies, the symptoms become even worse, including heart palpitations, intestinal distress and more.

VOC emissions are harmful outdoors, too

While VOC emissions that take place indoors are more dangerous due to the confined space, there’s also a risk of VOC exposure when using VOC paint or varnish outdoors.

Not sure how to tell what is varnish or paint with VOCs? By bringing paint chip samples to a nearby paint store, you’ll usually be able to find out for sure. The only real way to stay safe from VOCs is to seek out clearly labeled low VOC paint and varnish when you’re picking out paint.

After all, what is varnish or paint good for if your home’s paint contains toxic chemicals that you and your family are breathing in on a daily basis?

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