Posts Tagged ‘Division 09’

I recently was in a house being prepared for the market.  As is often the case, several of the rooms had been repainted.  I was struck by the strong odor (high VOC content) of the latex paint being used.

 Back in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, virtually all latex paints were considered low odor and therefore, acceptable to use in an occupied dwelling.  In the context of the times, this was true, since we had a long history of solvent based coatings with very high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).  The solvent odors lingered noticeably for days at a time and, of course went unnoticed, but were still present for weeks thereafter.  Compared with alkyd enamel, the smell of those early latex paints was pleasant.

 In response to more stringent environmental regulations and the green building movement, the coating manufacturers spent millions on research and product development to bring out low and zero VOC paints and coatings.  The early waterborne zero VOC paints were only available in limited colors and required several coats to obtain desired coverage.

 In more recent years, paint technology has progressed to where there are flat finish, zero VOC coatings which achieve good coverage with one or two coats.  These are also available in a wide range of colors, made possible by new tinting systems.  VOC content of the enamel products has also become practically zero, but is lagging somewhat behind due to the difficulties of achieving a glossy finish without some VOC content.  Zero VOCs translates into zero odor.

 The bottom line is this:  zero VOC coatings do not cause the headaches and other negative health side effects that were part and parcel of the older coating systems, and should be a part of any healthy indoor air quality plan.

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