Man has been compelled to express himself with color since cave paintings were all the rage. Unfortunately for early man’s inspired Picassos, there was a limited selection of viable long-lasting pigments available to them. The pigment of choice was chemical compound Fe203 — better known as rust. Over time their range of colors grew to include, blood, charcoal, clay and crushed rock. Certainly to the relief of Mrs. Early Man (and quite likely the family pet who may have served as a donor for the blood and bone), that all changed in the early 1800’s thanks to the pioneering efforts of Henry Alden Sherwin and Edward Williams. Better known today as Sherwin-Williams, these two men brought ready mixed paint to the market and changed a chore that was typically hired out, due to its complexity, into a DIY project.
While the advent of traditional paint has been a beautiful thing for our creativity and visual articulation, as often happens, we now know more than we did then about the dangers of some ingredients in paint. While providing us with extensive color choices, paint also provides us with some nasty little additives that we are now realizing are a detriment to our health. Traditional paint is a highly processed petrochemical product known to contain a number of cancer causing carcinogens that can be directly connected with respiratory problems in some people and worse.
Volatile Organic Compounds, or “VOCs” for short, are another concern for consumers who are apprehensive about pollutants in their environment. Particularly since VOCs negatively affect air quality for up to five years after your painting project is complete. In the hopes of eliminating the dangers associated with certain paint products, many people have decided to buy the more costly LOW/NO VOC paints. While this offers some benefit, according to rules and regulations published by the Air Quality Management District, the calculation of VOCs in paint excludes any colorant added to the tint base. So if your paint has color, it likely contains VOCs despite what governmental agencies allow manufacturers to advertise. 1 In fact, in January of 2011, the National Advertising Division recommended Sherwin-Williams modify NO-VOC claims for Harmony brand paints after being challenged by Benjamin Moore, another major paint manufacturer. 2
Luckily, there are some wonderful alternatives to traditional paint in the form of natural paints. Natural paints are some of the greenest and healthiest paints on the market. These paints are sans VOCs and other debilitating mutagens. There are a number of companies that sell convenient pre-mixed natural paints. If you would like to indulge your creative streak then most of these same companies also provide natural clay and ochre earth pigments to help you create your own natural paint.
While buying the paint is simple enough, the prep work, which is the most important step to a successful paint job, can be tedious and time consuming. A proper paint job may take more time and energy than your lifestyle allows. In those instances, why not contact one of our green paint professionals. Our professionals can educate you on the best application for your situation as well as take care of your project from start to finish.