Tips for choosing safe paints for a nursery babycenter blog gas vs electric dryer

I have to admit, when I started doing some research for this post, I quickly became overwhelmed. There is much to learn and much to be cautious about when it comes to choosing paint for your home and nursery. As if the color choices alone weren’t enough to overwhelm, now we have become more aware of the dangers of VOCs which are found in paints.

What are VOCs and what’s so bad about them? VOC stands for “Volatile Organic Compound”. It is a chemical additive that is found not only in paints but also in things like gasoline, colored markers, moth balls, cleaning supplies and some cosmetics. These VOCs–because of their “volatile” state–emit gases. Not only that, the gases can be emitted long after a paint is dry. According to one site, paint emits only half of its VOCs in the first year.

Exposure to VOCs is linked to numerous health problems–from very serious problems like cancer, to headaches and irritations to the ears, nose and throat. One specific VOC, benzene, is known to cause cancer. They can also cause things like kidney, liver, and nervous system damage. How you react to VOCs depends upon your exposure and differs from person to person. However, pregnant and nursing women and small children can be at a more significant risk.

I should stop here to say that when my husband noticed all my “paint research” he was skeptical. “ But how much exposure does it take to really make this something to worry about? Is the average person really exposed to enough VOCs to worry?” Unfortunately, I couldn’t answer his question specifically. Each person’s reaction is different and I don’t know how much exposure it takes to make one sick. But after all this reading, I do tend to believe that if there are other options available and they’re not completely cost-prohibitive, why not be better safe than sorry?

One company who makes zero VOC-paint, YOLO Colorhouse, talks about how VOCs effect the environment. They say on their website that “ if everyone in the United States used zero VOC paint instead of a ‘low VOC’ or traditional paints, we would eliminate between 150 million to 1 billion pounds of chemical solvent from being released into the atmosphere.”

So have I completely overwhelmed and freaked you out? I hope not. Because while all this information can be overwhelming, many paint companies carry low-VOC and no-VOC paints that are easily available. But again, do your research–as my friend Courtney pointed out on her blog, some companies will claim to be low VOC on their label, but this only refers to the base paint. When color tint is added to the paint, more VOCs are added, as well.

All this research is completely new to me. While there are about ten rooms in my house that could use a good re-painting, I have yet to purchase any low or zero-VOC paints since realizing how important it is to choose these materials. So while I can’t speak to the quality of the paints, much of the research I’ve done online reveals that these paints, though slightly more expensive in some cases, are high-quality paints that go on smoothly with great coverage. I’ve rounded up a few sources for low and zero VOC paints, as well as some other natural options.