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The Truth about House Paint: Your Kids and the Environment

The Truth about House Paint: Your Kids and the Environment

A special feature from Ted Schlageter*, professional painter

As a professional painter of 10+ years, a father, a husband and a citizen concerned about our environment, I am a strong supporter of Zero and Low VOC Paints. I try to encourage homeowners in particular to use Zero VOC paint. It’s not only better for our environment, but safer for the residents, my family, and me.

VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compounds. These are the chemicals released into the air while paint is drying and giving off that “new paint smell.” What most people don’t know is what they smell is actually benzene, kerosene, ammonia, formaldehyde, heavy metals, and other toxins that can cause many illnesses, even cancer.

In the past few years there has been a lot of improvement in Zero/Low VOC paint. Due to a rise in demand, almost every major paint manufacturing company in America has a Zero/Low VOC line. The paints are not only affordable, but they are also of high quality.

A few things to think about:

  • READ THE LABEL! Low odor does not mean Low VOC.
  • Look for certifications from non-profit organizations such as: Green Guard. They are monitored by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Although Low VOC is better than your normal paint there is no actual regulated number.                   Low just stands for less than, in comparison to regular paint.
  • Zero VOC paint should contain no more than 5 grams per liter of VOC’s.
  • Be aware that in areas with higher air pollution, VOC limits are regulated by the state. Be sure to check what your state regulation is.
  • Zero/Low VOC paints can cost $5 to $7 more per gallon (price varies depending on brand), but you are taking a positive stance in saving your environment and your family.

Here’s a personal note: I recommend brands such as: Ultra Spec 500 or Natura by Benjamin Moore, or Harmony by Sherwin Williams.

*Ted Schlageter is a self-employed professional painter working out of the Suffolk County area in NY. His company Coast to Coast Painting represents his training and education with an Oregon Company called Sage Brush Painting (a green company specializing in ecofriendly paint alternatives). Ted specializes in both interior and exterior painting and is skilled in fine finishes as well. You can contact Ted for further questions at:

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