As people make a conscious effort for more sustainable and environmentally friendly lifestyles, they are discovering that these are also better for human health. In home design and building, ecofriendly materials and paints help avoid numerous problems caused by VOCs and other chemicals. Replacing conventional materials and chemicals with non toxic paints and cleaners has many benefits for people and the environment.
What are VOCs?
VOCs or volatile organic components are found in many commonly used paints, varnishes, home building materials and even furnishings. These give off fumes that can be toxic for humans and pets. In fact, due to VOCs and other indoor air pollutants, indoor air can be more polluted than outdoors. Test have shown that concentration of toxic organics that can harm human health when inhaled are two to five time higher indoors than outdoors.
These toxic materials are also found in other household products like cleaning supplies, cosmetics, disinfectants, degreasers, glue, and many fuels. People exposed to VOCs may experience physical symptoms as well as long term harm to their health. The extent of the harmful effects depends on several factors, including individual sensitivity, length of exposure, and the newness of the materials responsible for producing the VOCs.
How do VOCs harm human health?
Health effects from VOCs can include physical symptoms like headaches, loss of coordination, eye, nose and throat irritation, loss of coordination and dizziness, nausea, and skin rashes. Longer term effects can include damage to the liver and kidneys, as well as the nervous system. A report published by CBC Marketplace states that the presence of VOCs at levels over 500 ppb can trigger health problems like these for people with chemical sensitivities.
For a while, environmentally conscious people, as well as those with health concerns like chemical sensitivities, pregnant moms, and people with respiratory issues have been looking for alternatives to conventional paints, home products and building materials. Millennials are likewise looking for choices like non toxic paint and eco friendly glues, as are parents with young children.
Can non toxic paints make a difference?
Using low VOC paints for painting instead of conventional paints has some very definite advantages. A recent study at the TIEQ lab at the Syracuse Center of Excellence placed participants in a special environmentally-controlled office space. This space had VOC levels reduced to around 50 micrograms per cubic meter. It also provided 40 cubic feet per minute of outdoor air for each participant.
The results were startling, and showed an improvement in cognitive scores by 101%, when compared to scores from participants in conventional workspaces. As the TIEP Syracuse study shows, changing to non toxic paints has a direct impact on the well being of the inhabitants of any building. These non toxic paints are also better for the environment, from sourcing and materials to use and final disposal.
As environmental concerns and green design begin to impact the home building and home improvement industries, people are realizing that products and designs that benefit the environment are also better for humans. Replacing conventional paints with non toxic paint can have a direct and measurable impact on human well being and health.