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Why You Should Avoid Buying Paint With This Ingredient
The nasty ingredients in paint that you want to avoid are VOCs — volatile organic compounds, which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines as "emitted gases from certain solids or liquids." They consist of a variety of chemicals and can cause both short-term and long-term health problems.
In addition to being found in paint, paint strippers, and other solvents, VOCs can be found in aerosol sprays, select cleansers and disinfectants, and some air fresheners, among other common household products. Luckily, hardware stores sell either low- or no-VOC paint (or both), but you'll need to look at the fine print.
"The FTC has designated what can and can't be marketed using free-of claims in their published Green Guide under rule 260.9," Rick Watson of Sherwin-Williams says. "No-VOC paints can still contain a trace number of VOCs, as long as they're not at a level that would cause material harm."
If you're unable to find a no- or low-VOC paint, the EPA recommends increasing ventilation while painting and throwing out any unused or little-used containers when you're finished, because gases can leak even from closed containers. Instead of tossing these potentially hazardous cans into the garbage, do research to find where you can dispose of them.