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Indoor Air Quality

Being green usually mean you are fighting for the environment, well at the Green Painter we have taken to the idea that being green means being healthy.  And when it comes to indoor air quality the biggest risk factor to your safety is Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs for short. These chemicals such as benzene, formaldehyde, toluene, and xylene have such low boiling points that they evaporate off the walls and other painted surfaces into the surrounding area in a process known as off gassing. These chemicals can be extremely toxic and have been shown to cause cancer as well as nervous system problems.


Risk factors associated with VOCs


The World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer found in 2007 that 'occupational exposure as a painter is carcinogenic to humans'.  In addition, the US EPA lists paint in its top five environmental hazards due to air toxics being at their highest during construction, and paint being among the most potent sources of toxicity.  Furthermore, occupational exposure as a painter has been classified since 1989 as carcinogenic to humans, and new information has linked painting to lung and bladder cancer. Studies done today also suggest that maternal exposure may be associated with childhood leukemia.


Although painters are at a much greater risk, paints that contain toxins such as VOCs can continue to off-gas for years after painting is completed.  These chemicals, being emitted through prolonged off gassing can produce symptoms of sore throats, eye irritation, nausea, headaches and a feeling of general discomfort. Illnesses attributed by medical science to the high levels of polluted air range from asthma to lung cancer.  In addition, contact lenses absorb strong vapors and hold them against the eyes, causing irritation or even eye damage.



Volatile Organic Compounds present a variety of air pollution effects including smog, crop damage, breathing difficulties, and immune system suppression.  Possible effects include asthma, respiratory illness, and genetic deformities. Some chemicals in paint may be transmitted through breast milk, and may cause genetic damage in the children of chronically exposed workers.  Southern California's South Coast Air Quality Management District estimates that paint emissions from homes and other structures in their region give off about 60 tons per day of VOC vapors in their region.  To put that in context, painted surfaces give off 25% more toxins per day than gas stations and oil refineries.  Not only that but conventional paints use petrochemicals, which push for an even grater dependency on oil thus further fuelling new drilling endeavors and allowing for more catastrophes such as the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico.