I’m a firm believer that every product we introduce to our homes will impact on our quality of life. So, when it comes to health, it’s worth taking a step back to consider what you can do to improve your indoor environment. Since this pandemic, painting has become one of the most popular activities for many. And, let’s face it, for most of us, we had a lot more time on our hands so this was perfect! It also gave me the chance to see what the husband and I could focus on instead of worrying about what the future holds. In fact, we painted our master bedroom, which kept us occupied for quite a while! However, before we began, my top priority was to choose non toxic paint…
Why I picked non toxic paint
Well, in short, I did my research! And I discovered toxic interior paints could be responsible for a whole host of common health problems. They can not only affect you and I, but they can be a health hazard for our furry friends, too. This is why I felt it was so important to consider my paint options first. In fact, spending any amount of time in a poorly ventilated or newly painted room (using toxic paint) could expose you to certain carcinogens. Benzene is one such example of a carcinogen, which can be found in some paints (and even pesticides, for example). This actually belongs to a group of chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
These are gases the paints give off, which contain solvents. And, if you breathe in high levels of VOCs, you could find you’ll suffer from a variety of ailments, from headaches and itchy eyes to a runny nose or even dizziness. According to some studies, chronic exposure to VOCs can even damage your nervous system, liver, and kidneys, and give you cancer. All paint will have a certain level of VOCs. And, from what I’ve read, it seems to be impossible not to. However, these amounts will have been drastically reduced in line with the EU Paint Products Directive. And of course, the lower the level, the better this will be for you, me and every decorator, professional or otherwise.
What is non toxic paint?
Well, for starters, this should not affect your health or the environment so it gets a thumbs up from me. If you choose non toxic paint for your home, chemicals and high levels of VOCs will not affect the air you, your family and your pets will breathe. The sorts of chemicals to steer clear from, for example, are Alkylphenol Ethoxylates (APES).I’ve actually read that these can cause problems with hormone production and result in birth defects. Therefore, a non-toxic paint should have low levels of VOCs in the base paint and the pigmentation used.
How can I find non-toxic paint?
Check out all the ingredients whether you find this on the paint pot or you need to request this from the brand. You could even look for an independent ‘eco’ certification for complete peace of mind.
How to remove old paint safely
I think it’s also worth bearing in mind the negative effects you may encounter if you’re stripping toxic paint at home, In fact, some overseas studies claim the effects of VOCs can increase by 1,000 times in this situation. And, when you remove old paint from furniture, I suggest you do so outside or in a highly ventilated area with a face mask. Don’t forget paint strippers can contain methylene chloride which is a known carcinogen. I think it’s best to take every precaution so wear gloves, eye protection and a respirator mask with vapour protection. If you live in a period property, you may come across lead paint. However, a professional can remove it or you can paint over it with a lead-free paint for peace of mind.
Some of my favourite non toxic paint brands
Farrow & Ball
Now, Farrow & Ball is a great one to choose if you’re looking for a non toxic paint brand. In fact, they were the first in the industry to move to an entirely water-based collection. They class all their paints as minimal or low VOC. However Farrow & Ball say these far exceed ‘the standard’ for those categories. They also don’t test their paint on animals and never have, so I’m a great fan. In fact, we used their Peignoir and Wevet for our master bedroom project (as mentioned).
Water-based and free from oils, Earthborn features all the ingredients on the sides of their pots. So, this way, you can make an informed choice. Their paints are virtually VOC-free – they say they’re less than 62 parts per million, which is highly impressive. You’ll find no harmful emissions or awful paint odours so you can return to your room immediately after decorating. If you suffer from allergies, which I do, or asthma, that covers my sister and father, you’ll find no ill effects from using these non toxic paints. I also like their Ecolabel, which demonstrates how they meet strict environmental criteria in their ingredients and how they manufacture.
Labelled as one of the first UK paint manufacturers to achieve the European environmental standard BS EN ISO 14001, this brand seems to work hard to minimise its ecological impact. In fact, they say their paints carry the industry’s lowest eco-rating and their VOC content is listed as virtually zero on their water-based paints. They also manufacture in the UK.
They are an environmentally-friendly paint brand, which focuses on breathable, natural paints created by interior designer Edward Bulmer. They are made from naturally occurring raw materials from plants, such as linseed oil, or mineral raw materials, such as chalk. So, solvents, pesticides, herbicides or toxins are thankfully left out of the mix.
Graham & Brown
Well, Graham & Brown has a completely water-based paint range, so their paints are low VOC and low odour. This way, you can decorate without the worry of any health problems or an adverse impact on the environment.
If you haven’t read my other interiors posts, you don’t know what you’re missing!