Q: What is a VOC?
VOC is short for volatile organic compound. In plain terms, these are chemical liquids that evaporate at room temperature, and have measurable negative effects on human health. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has identified paints to be a major contributor to VOCs inside our homes and in the environment. Walls and ceilings are roughly 70% of your interior. For more information on indoor air quality go to www.epa.gov/iaq.
Q: Is Colorhouse Inspired paint “zero VOC”?
Until recently, based on EPA standards, it was generally understood in the paint industry that paints containing less than 5g/L of VOCs could be labeled “zero VOC”. Because Colorhouse is committed to being as transparent as possible with our consumers, we have chosen to make the maximum VOC content information on our label more visible. We are eliminating claims regarding “zero” or “no” VOCs, as this language can be confusing. Our VOC statement educates our customer about the standardized test we use to determine our VOC content, and informs our customer that colorants can add VOCs to our paint.
Our VOC Content Statement:
Maximum VOC Content for Inspired untinted base paint and primer: 3 g/L (as determined by ASTM Test Method D 6886). The VOC content may increase after tinting.
Q: Are any paints considered zero VOC anymore?
The paint industry is changing the way we talk about VOCs. In the past, purchasing a paint labeled “zero VOC” was the gold standard, but not anymore.
According to the EPA, “EPA formerly defined the regulated organic compounds in outdoor air as ‘Reactive Organic Gases’ (ROG). This terminology clarified its meaning as being limited to reactive chemicals. However, EPA later changed that terminology to ‘VOC’. Unfortunately, the use of the term ‘VOC’ rather than ROG has created a misunderstanding when applied to indoor air quality. Many individuals and organizations, including manufacturers of building materials and products, and third party certification organizations have come to think of VOCs as ‘only those regulated by EPA for outdoor air’, and apply the same definition for indoor air purposes…” (See https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/technical-overview-volatile-organic-compounds). “However, the emphasis of that concern outdoors is different from indoors. The main concern indoors is the potential for VOCs to adversely impact the health of people that are exposed. While VOCs can also be a health concern outdoors, EPA regulates VOCs outdoors mainly because of their ability to create photochemical smog under certain conditions.” (See https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/technical-overview-volatile-organic-compounds).
The paint industry is now attempting to clear up this misunderstanding by more clearly labeling how VOCs affect indoor air quality. Colorhouse is doing this by eliminating unqualified claims regarding VOCs and instead issuing a VOC Content Statement and an Emissions Statement.
When purchasing paint that might be labeled as “zero VOC,” it is important to note how the paint company is calculating VOCs and how they are measuring emissions. See the TESTING and CERTIFICATION section below for more information on this topic.
Q: Do colorants add VOCs?
Colorants can add VOCs to base paint. The colorant system used can vary from retailer to retailer. At Colorhouse, we use the COLORTREND 808 colorant system for all online paint orders.
This colorant system is labeled as low VOC by its manufacturer. We can provide you with the Safety Data Sheets for COLORTREND 808 upon request. As Colorhouse does not manufacture these colorants, we may not be able to answer specific ingredient questions regarding colorants. For specific questions that we cannot answer, we can assist you by providing the contact information for the manufacturer.
If you are purchasing Colorhouse Inspired paint from a retail location, the retailer will be able to answer questions about the type of colorant system they use to tint Colorhouse paint.
Q: How many VOCs do colorants add?
This question does not have a “one answer fits all” response, as it depends on the color. In general, lighter colors require less colorant and therefore tend to have lower VOC levels than darker colors, which require more colorant. For example, our most popular off-white BISQUE .02 has only a few drops of added colorant. The maximum amount of colorant that our paint can hold is 14 ounces. If you have strong concerns regarding colorant, we recommend choosing Colorhouse white IMAGINE .01, which contains no added colorant.