Paints are an important source of indoor air pollution, both because they contain chemicals that evaporate easily in the air, and because they also cover large surfaces.
Most conventional coatings and finishing products are a source of volatile organic compounds strong> (VOC), including formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, etc., which may be present with the function of solvents, diluents, etc. or to increase the performance of the product.
In addition to VOCs, paints may contain and release other odorous, toxic substances, or unwanted components, such as pesticides and heavy metals (lead, cadmium, chromium, mercury, arsenic, and titanium).
High-quality paints and finishing products, low toxicity and low VOC emissions are currently available with a wide variety of costs and performance. These products can therefore reduce indoor air pollution levels and health risks for both workers and occupants.
Water and latex paints, for example, contain between 5 and 15% of VOC; in addition, latex paints are low in pesticides (especially fungicides and bactericides), often added to water-based paints to prevent mold.
Paints with a low content of organic solvents guarantee greater safety than solvent-based paints, due to their lower toxicity and flammability.
They are generally safer to handle and can be washed with water, reducing health risks and minimizing the risk of rejection.
Also available are natural paints that do not contain petrochemical derivatives but may contain natural VOCs, however toxic, such as L-limonene, turpentine, pine resin.