The Great Paint Debate: Go Green and Breathe Easy!

There’s no question that one of the easiest and least expensive ways to give your home a facelift is to splash some new paint around. Before you do, though, think green. Paints contain a wide range of chemicals that can be extremely harmful to people and to the environment.  This makes painting an area where some forethought and a little shopping around can really make a difference.

Here’s why. Regular paint releases low-level toxic emissions into the air for years after application. This is because of the high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) needed — until recently — to ensure the paint’s durability.

Indoors, where these emissions are concentrated in sealed, virtually airtight homes and workplaces, this air pollution can be a health hazard, causing headaches, dizziness and other ailments. Outdoors, they contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone.
If your interior decorating needs allow and you want to avoid these problems for health or environmental reasons, shop for natural, zero-VOC paints — like lime wash, milk wash and clay paint — for indoor use.  If that’s too hard to commit to because of the limited color choices, don’t worry!  Low-VOC paints and coating options provide a very good, environmentally responsible choice, as well.

On the outside of your home, where exterior paint can contribute to air pollution and contaminate ground water and drinking water supplies, choosing to go green makes even more sense.  Look for no- or low-VOC, no-formaldehyde paints and avoid alkyd or solvent-based paints. These contain hundreds of toxic ingredients.

Don’t worry about quality issues.  We’ve come a long way and many innovative paint companies have worked hard to overcome paint’s traditional health and environmental challenges. Reputable paint companies, like Sherwin-Williams, are now manufacturing eco-friendly coatings that still look just as good, if not better, than older paint types.  They are also ensuring that those of us who care about the environment can “breathe easy.”  These paints have also been created for modern life with features that include low-sheen, easy-clean, one-coat or long-lasting…so, why debate or even think about it any longer? Just go green!

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