Project Description

VOCs a.k.a The Stuff in Paint That Smells

Ever wonder why your throat gets scratchy after painting or staining? VOC’s are your culprit.

What are VOC’s?

Volatile Organic Compounds are chemical solvents found in certain primers and paints. As paint dries the VOCs are released into the air in the form of breathable gases. Does anyone remember this chemical change lesson from Chemistry?? This is what gives paint its scent. These gases are toxic and long term exposure can cause eye and skin irritation and damage to your lung and kidneys.

Why do primers need VOCs?

Historically, primers and paints needed these solvents in order for the paint to adhere and smooth evenly. Advances have been made that have significantly reduced the amount of voc’s. Now it is common to find paints with VOC contents under 50 and some with 0.

How are VOCs measured?

VOCs are measured by grams per liter. What you need to remember is the higher the number – the higher the VOC content.

VOC content on polyurethane can

Are there regulations on VOCs?

Major advances have been made in the paint and stain industry to reduce VOC levels below the federal maximum VOC limit of 250 g/l for paint and 380 g/l for other finishes such as stains. Green Seal, a nationally recognized non-profit environmental standard development and certification organization has created their own levels of recommended VOCs. See below for recommended levels (levels include pigment color).

Greenseal VOC Recommended Content Chart

Greenseal VOC Recommended Content Chart

ottom Line. Use latex paints whenever you can. Wear proper protection when using items with higher VOC’s – Respirator, gloves and goggles. Make sure to ask VOC content AFTER color pigment is added to paint base.