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No VOC Paint

Last night I made mention of using No VOC paint in our new house. It sounds like some crazy weird thing, but basically what it comes down to is using a product that doesn’t contain as many chemicals and fumes. I have a lot of sensitivities to smells and Mr. Luke has a very sensitive system as well. In my attempt to make our family more environmentally friendly and to be wise about the amount of chemicals we allow into our home and in turn into our bodies, I started researching paint.

What I found is that VOCs or Volatile Organic Compounds are not a laughing matter. VOCs are a large group of carbon based chemicals that easily evaporate at room temperature. Some common examples according to the Minnesota Department of Health are:

  1. Acetone

  2. Benzene

  3. Ethylene glycol

  4. Formaldehyde

  5. Methylene chloride

  6. Perchloroethylene

  7. Toluene

  8. Xylene

  9. 1,3-butadiene

Many products we have in our homes release or “off-gas” VOCs. Some examples of sources of VOCs are:

Building Materials

  1. Carpets and adhesives

  2. Composite wood products

  3. Paints

  4. Sealing caulks

  5. Solvents

  6. Upholstery fabrics

  7. Varnishes

  8. Vinyl Floors

Home and Personal Care Products

  1. Air fresheners

  2. Air cleaners that produce ozone

  3. Cleaning and disinfecting chemicals

  4. Cosmetics

  5. Fuel oil, gasoline

  6. Moth balls

  7. Vehicle exhaust running a car in an attached garage


  1. Cooking

  2. Dry cleaning

  3. Hobbies

  4. Newspapers

  5. Non-electric space heaters

  6. Photocopiers

  7. Smoking

  8. Stored paints and chemicals

  9. Wood burning stoves

The scariest part of VOCs are the side effects they can cause. According to the Environmental Protection Agency website, these include eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches, loss of coordination, nausea; damage to liver, kidney, and central nervous system. Some can cause cancer in animals; some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans. Key signs or symptoms associated with exposure to VOCs include conjunctival irritation, nose and throat discomfort, headache, allergic skin reaction, dyspnea, declines in serum cholinesterase levels, nausea, emesis, epistaxis, fatigue, dizziness.

I believe so strongly in the importance of reducing the amount of chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis. Changing paint products to one that is healthy for your home and your body makes a great deal of sense and is a simple change for the better.

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