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Low VOC Interior Paint and Other Healthy Alternative Paints

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Low Odor or Low VOC Paint

First of all, there is no clear mandatory standard for what constitutes a Low-VOC paint or a Zero-VOC paint. Even the voluntary standards that do exist do not include VOC's from the pigment added at the paint store when you tint the paint at purchase. Also, please be aware that just like a lot of other "organic" marketing going on with our milk and foods, some companies use Low-VOC or No-VOC paint as a marketing term. Further, because these terms are confusing, a lot of store clerks may improperly inform you as to the actual VOC status of a paint. It will ultimately be up to you to read the labels on the paint can and see if they at least meet the Green Seal GS-11 Standard or better.

Low Odor or Low VOC Paint are terms used to describe VOC content that meets the less stringent EPA standard of 250 g/L for latex paints or 380 g/L for oil based paint. But here's where it gets confusing. A paint may be labeled Low VOC and be significantly BETTER than these standards. For example, if you buy a Green Seal certified paint, the maximum VOC content will be 50 g/L for flat paint or 150 g/L for other paint, not 250 g/L as per the EPA standard.

So Low Odor or Low VOC paints are generally marketed by reputable paint manufacturers as at least meeting the 50 g/L VOC threshold, with many paints doing better than this. You should look for a VOC range of 10-25 g/L.

An example of a paint that meets this spec is Pristine Eco-Spec Paint by Benjamin Moore & Co. (www.benjaminmoore.com)

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