Why is zero VOC paint important? There is a lot of chatter in mainstream blogs and news outlets about choosing zero VOC products. While chemical sensitive people often get headaches from the smell of high VOC products like paint, others love the smell— so is the smell an indicator of how good or bad VOCs are for you? Are the people who love the smell of fresh paint unaware of how harmful it is? Or is it okay to inhale if they don’t experience any obvious side effects?
What are VOCs
VOCs stands for Volatile Organic Compounds, but just what are VOCs? The website How Stuff Works states VOCs are the most dangerous component in household paint as VOCs have been linked to several health issue from nausea to cancer. The VOCs are released into the air as the paint dries. Most of the VOCs off-gas into the air fairly quickly, but studies have shown the off gassing can continue for years. While this is a concern outdoors, indoors the off gassing is 10 to 1000 times higher, especially in poorly ventilated rooms. Breathing in VOCs is harmful to all humans, but may be especially dangerous to newborns.
Do VOCs increase the risk of SIDS?
Nursey.about.com suggests that even though VOCs and indoor air pollution are not on the American Association of Pediatricians official SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) risk list, parents should avoid them. The article reasons that while the respiratory issues, such as asthma, connected to VOCs by the EPA don’t usually cause death in an adult, these samerespiratory issues are connected to SIDS. Which is reason enough parents should consider playing it safe and switch to zero VOC products with non toxic vapors.
Switching to zero VOCs paints doesn’t have to be like switching from a regular pasta to spiralized zucchini pasta. All the color options are still available. Thanks to today’s technology any color in found in regular household paint company can be matched with a zero VOC paint and the price is comparable! If the only thing you are sacrificing is the VOCs themselves, why not make a switch to a smarter, healthier paint?
Still have questions or concerns? Feel free to connect with us and we will follow up properly.
Does Your School Suffer from Indoor Air Pollution?
For 10 months each year, children spend the majority of their day inside a school building. Not surprisingly the EPA listed Indoor Air Quality as one of the top 5 health risks to our children and reported a healthy indoor environment can reduce a student’s number of absents and even raise test scores!
Indoor air pollution comes from many sources and often occurs in the process of trying to make the classrooms clean and look fresh, which includes paints.
Using Zero VOC paints to reduce indoor air pollution is recommended by the EPA. The list of immediate health effects from exposures to VOCs vary from headaches to dizziness to difficulty breathing. Long terms effects can include asthma, organ and central nervous damage as well as cancer.
Still find VOCs a bit confusing?
Jennifer at The Smart Mama gives a good explanation of VOCs. She also touches on the regulatory framework products like zero VOC paint fall under.
No ill effect if painting is done with people in the building! Or even the room!
With nontoxic paint the maintenance schedule is more flexible as the building doesn’t have to be unoccupied. However, you do need to remember to put up Wet Paint signs because without an odor there are no clues an area was just painted! Also it is often a myth environmentally safer products don’t hold up well or can’t be cleaned. Zero VOC paints are easy to clean and often cost efficient. Best of all, with today’s technology, we can match any paint color you choose!
Healthy Product Declarations, Sustainable Jersey Green Schools, Living Building Challenge, Designated Persons, CEFM’s, USGBC, LEED, Blue Ribbon Schools, CHPS, parents and building occupants with concerns about asthma triggers and other health issues recognize the benefits and would prefer the use of safer products, such as zero VOC paints.
Still have questions or concerns? Feel free to connect with us and we will follow up properly.
Indoor Air Quality is becoming more important to students’ health…rising number of health issues like asthma are not a surprise.
Gone are the days when a school’s health focus was limited to treating playground injuries,
performing head lice checks and storing vaccine information on each child. Today’s students’ health issues are more complicated.
What Actions to Take to Improve Students’ Health…
Education Week reported on June 16, that the EPA is advising schools to take systematic action to rid buildings of asthma “triggers.” They also must develop comprehensive “asthma management plans” that coordinate treatment for affected children. School environments can affect students, both with and without asthma, through allergens, poor ventilation, and hazardous chemicals. The EPA has found poor indoor air quality can have measurable effects on students’ health and academic performance (EPA, 2011a).
EPA recommends a minimum of zero VOC products
For instance, using a polyurethane product for gymnasium refinishing with a VOC level of 350 Grams per Liter is the standard for bad air quality management in facilities. Because of its characterization primarily as a durable industrial coating and it’s extremely low cost it will not go away. At least not until something “hits the fan” and change is forced. These products are quite hazardous for workers and building occupants. Higher VOC products are extremely flammable and therefore responsible for many fires, explosions, and injuries each year.
Floor products with 350 grams per liter of VOC (volatile organic chemical) are typically used in an OSHA controlled environment. They require the use of respirators and usually necessitate the use of industrial hygienists to monitor its safe use. Yet, most school gym floor finishes are laden with VOCs at this level and the proper precautions are rarely taken.
Take a leap, and make the switch
Switching to a zero VOC gym floor finish like Vermont Natural Coatings , for instance, lowers indoor air pollution. This results in a positive effect on breathing for those children with asthma and complies with the EPA recommendations.
However, moving away from oil based coatings is not easy when the business administrator community that finalizes the purchasing decisions for most schools is not up to speed on what air quality really means to children’s and building occupant’s health. Their decisions are usually based on costs.
One of the issues is a high gloss gymnasium finish is not a simple product to specify. It must be durable, have the right slip resistance for sports activities and also be safe. A unique approach to gym coatings is to use a fortifier such as whey protein in a bio-based finish. Lowering VOCs dramatically and still having a quick drying formula with fast turnaround is no easy feat. A MFMA certified wood floor coating is highly durable, certified with the appropriate slip-resistance and can carry a far lower VOC rating like < 95 Grams per liter. Using a matching sealer product and top coat makes re-coating work extremely fast and simple, even for in-house staff custodians to do the work.
There is an excellent track record with these types of products over the last few years with demanding facility managers from other local school districts and those who do their own finishing work. It is important to note there are many generic look a likes in the water based wood floor coatings market. Substituting generic water based products is hazardous because of the inclusion of hormone and endocrine disrupting chemicals that are used as drying agents.
Even though lower quality products bring shorter life spans and higher life cycle costs, they are used extensively in schools for their short term lower cost. Many school districts are scared off of the cheaper alternatives because of the noxious odor and lower performance standards that they are dealing with.
Follow instructions to receive maximum benefit
Applying any product according to manufacturers recommendations is a must in today’s complex world. Putting on several coats, which is recommended, may bring several years of extra service to a gym floor, whereas the one quick coat that most schools receive necessitates returning every year to do the job. Applying several coats raises costs substantially but yields a higher quality job.
Healthy Product Declarations, Sustainable program Green Schools, Living Building Challenge, Designated Persons, CEFM’s, USGBC, LEED, Blue Ribbon Schools, CHPS, parents, and building occupants with concerns about asthma and allergy triggers recognize the benefits and prefer the use of safer products.
Indoor Air Quality By the Numbers…
A word about proper ventilation which is key to maintaining good air quality in gymnasiums. High VOC products require the following LEED approved formula to make a building safe before occupancy.
Square footage of gym: eg. 100′ x 150′ = 15,000 square feet
Air Flush Requirement: 14,000 cu. ft. clean air x 15,000 square feet = 210,000,000 cu. ft.
Establish Gymnasium Volume Calculation: 15,000 x 35 ft ceiling height = 525,000 cu. ft.
10% Volume Refresh Typical new Building: 52,500 cfm / hour. x 24 = 1,260,000 / day
210,000,000 / 1,260,000 = 166 days until considered safe to occupy.
Bear in mind older schools may have poorer rates of ventilation, while newer LEED schools may flush out in 30 days or less. The vaporized hazardous chemicals in buildings occupied too soon are cleared by occupants who absorb those vapors into their lungs.
Buying cheap always costs more while buying better products saves money
Economically a healthier product can initially cost a little more but can be buffed out and last several years when applied properly and at the proper mil thickness, effectively saving money. Ask the hard questions and get straight answers before committing to the same old thing. Using oil based coatings in schools is simply irresponsible and enough is enough.
Grants help students with asthma and allergies breathe easier. Your school district can qualify!
Is the number of students suffering in your school from asthma and allergies growing at an alarming rate?
To help your student body breathe easier, you should know grants for schools implementing health and wellness actions are available. In fact, several area schools use grants to improve their IAQ (Indoor Air Quality). These schools also gain points toward being a certified Sustainable Jersey School.
Low VOC Paints, Gym Floor Finishes Mitigate Indoor Air Quality
Switching to a Low or Zero VOC (volatile organic chemical) paint or gym floor finish can improve a school’s IAQ while lowering indoor air pollution resulting in a positive effect on breathing for those children with asthma and allergies.
Gym floor finishes can be an asthma trigger!
Most gym floor finishes, for example, are laden with VOCs, which fill schools with the most awful smell and can create chronic health issues like asthma and allergies. These type of environmental health issues are hard to quantify so most people are happy to simply settle for so called “eco-friendly” products, but many of these finishes are not much better than traditional products as they too continue to off gas long after the odor is gone, especially when building ventilation systems are dialed back to save money on heating and cooling costs.
To make the issue even more complicated, there are no studies on how long wood finishes continue to off-gas. Manufacturers claim different time frames from days to months, but offer no real science. The real answer can be YEARS! The LEED program says the air needs to change about 1750 times over before it is safe. Many times the air “is changed” through your students’ lungs causing asthma and allergy attacks. This is just one of the factors effecting school indoor environment.
Far lower VOC levels can be easily found in products that are nontoxic, natural or bio-based.
In the example of floor finishes, a highly durable, NWFMA certified slip-resistant finish can carry a VOC rating < 95 Grams per liter. Remarkably, a product like this uses recycled whey protein as its base and is a sealer and top coat in one with amazingly little odor. Unbelievably many schools use industrial chemical finishes over 350 Grams per liter.
A grant to evaluate indoor air quality would go a long way in off-setting all the costs of implementing a low VOC school paint and coatings program. The program might include:
Inventory Analysis designed to get hazardous products out of your schools.
Color matching and record keeping for buildings, rooms, surfaces and colors.
Creating a quote, purchase order and work order system for your facility. Analyzing the cost of your paint & coating projects to find cost reductions. Taking a hard look at the time and costs involved in SDS compliance.
Comparing costs of traditional products to safer, high performance products.
Evaluating vehicle usage to do paint store pickups vs free delivery options.
Solve Environmental Issues that trigger asthma and allergies with Professional Help
Firms like Non Toxic Paint Supply can evaluate the products you are currently using to help find the most durable and least VOC laden hazardous finishes while balancing cost and ease of use. With experience in design, green building and maintenance, area schools have found us to be a valuable resource in assisting with making this important switch.
How to Apply for the Grant Money
If a district is participating in Sustainable Jersey Schools and serves students in grade 6 or above they can apply for one of thirty $4,000 grants. The programs that could be funded by this grant are varied and include instituting nontoxic painting methods, refinishing gym floors with low VOCs or installing vestibule matting system.
For more information, visit sustainablejersey.com . Whether a district applies for the grant or not, you can still challenge your schools to move in a more sustainable and healthy direction. Small actions, like using nontoxic, virtually odorless, bio-based floor finishes and paint create real change toward improving a school environment. Feel free to connect with us and we will follow up properly.