Is there a big deal with the paint you choose to use other than your colour and texture preferences? Is there more to paint than how it looks and feels?
The ‘big deal’ lies in the chemical composition of the paint or coating you choose to use.
Some traditional ingredients and formulae used in paint and coatings have been shown to have a negative effect on the surrounding environment. The paint you use also can have a direct impact on your health!
Why, you ask? Well, to sum it up in three words – Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC).
These are chemicals with a high vapour pressure. All this means is that these chemicals have a low boiling point and therefore will evaporate (emitting gases) at low (even room) temperatures. Paints and coatings contain additives and compounds with high vapour pressure. One example is benzene. It is often used as a solvent in paints, glues, mothballs, and other household cleaning products.
Exposure to benzene is thoughtto cause cancer, but also shown to cause liver and kidney failure, and damage to the nervous system (brain included). Irritation of the throat, nose, conjunctiva are some symptoms of exposure to VOCs. VOCs also trigger allergic reactions in the skin, laboured breathing (dyspnea), nausea, vomiting (emesis), nose-bleeding (epistaxis), dizziness, and fatigue. These symptoms are only some of them.
So what are your options when choosing paints? For a start, you can buy paints with low-VOCs. You can also find paints with additives different to the traditional formulae used in paints and coatings.
These options are more available in the market than you may think. Over the last decade, consumers have increasingly become more aware and conscious to the effects on health and the environment, this added to the ever tightening regulations of governments and international forums around the world, has fueled the race for manufacturers to deliver safer, greener and healthier products.
Another innovation is zero-VOC paint. The competition to produce safer products has pushed manufacturers to achieve significantly lower levels of VOCs in their products than the standards defined in low-VOC. Zero-VOC paints have less than 5g of VOC per litre of paint. Additives in paints and coatings do not take up a significant portion in paints and coatings (0.5–5.0 wt. per cent). However, they do affect the chemical and visual properties of the paints critically.
They do everything from affecting their opacity/translucency, and texture, to colors and pigmentation. Research and development has also been poured into this front to facilitate eco-friendlier and healthier outcomes to be made available to the market.
The writer, Kamlesh Shah, is Basco Paints Managing Director