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Choosing a Nontoxic Paint
Low VOC Paint Options

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Nontoxic Paint Options

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This is part four of a six-part article on detoxing your home. It will be helpful to start at the beginning, if you have reached this page directly from a search engine search or a eco-friendly link. detoxing your home, part one.

Tip about paint color and toxicity: If you order low VOC paints from a reputable green living store, they will probably tell you that adding color may add toxicity. In general, the lighter the color, with white being optimal, the less toxicity may be present in a green, or low voc, paint.

Don't assume that requesting a custom color blend, which is anything darker than basic white, is the same as ordering the untreated paint. Ask about toxicity levels in different colors.

About Nontoxic, Low VOC Paints: So how toxic are paints? Well, acrylic paints can contain as much as 30 percent solvents. Enamel paints are even higher in voc levels. I don't know about you but I'd just as soon not be breathing that!

I was simply thrilled to learn that there are nontoxic paint options. Some toxin-free paints are actually made of milk! Well, actually from casein, extracted from milk and lime (not the lime you use with tequila but the chalky kind).

Before you go down to the local hardware store and buy a can full of chemicals, explore the internet and look for low VOC paints (or better yet, zero voc, which means they have less than 5 grams per litre) in colors that will not torture you while you apply them.

Cindy, at Ecology Shelter in Asheville, NC can help with that too cause I know AFM makes some low voc paints but I don't think they are milk-based so if that appeals to you, you can even make your own.

I read somewhere (sorry, I can't find the site again) that you can even add berries of different kinds to create different colors. I also read that you need to seal it after you paint so it may be more steps than just using a low voc paint but these milk-based paints are apparently the very best for those with chemical sensitivities.

If you have severe sensitivities, it might be worth the extra effort. There are also several sites that sell it. You can find nontoxic paint and good advice on nontoxic alternatives for your home online.

Continue with the green living articles... part five: carpet outgassing


Health Disclaimer: If you have acute allergies or chemical sensitivities, there may be no option that is guaranteed not to bother you while applying. You may need to hire someone to do the actual painting and stay out of the residence for a few days after, even with low VOC paints or other green living alternatives. Be wise and self-monitoring when working with any type of chemical compounds, even nontoxic ones.