Natural Paint

natural paintI have always been sensitive to odors. My husband states that I have a “dog” nose.

When we decided to build a home office 3 years ago, I researched the subject of low or no voc paints. VOC refers to Volatile Organic Compounds which may be harmful to health, and can be more serious for pregnant women, small children, and those with chemical sensitivities or respiratory issue such as asthma. According to, VOC refers to chemicals which evaporate at room temperature. VOC’s are present in all oil-based paints and many latex paints.

Some paint stores may boast products that are “low-VOC”. When I was painting 3 years ago, I went to Benjamin Moore and asked if they had a low voc line. The clerk became annoyed with me and told me that “All paints are low voc nowadays.” These paints may meet the EPA guidelines for reducing ozone formation outside, with no regard to the quality of the indoor air. The Green Building program requires paints have no more than 150gm per liter of voc’s. For those with chemical sensitivities, it is recommended to use less than 1gm per liter or no voc’s.

Three years ago I chose the Harmony no voc line from Sherwin Williams. The paint went on nicely and did not emit an odor. I was disappointed however with the way the paint lacked luster, and did not clean up well after being soiled or marked. I decided to paint again this year and went to my local Home Depot store to try the Freshaire line. The paint looks better, and I was promised by the clerk that it cleans up well and there have been no customer complaints. However, we painted a week ago and the room still has stinky paint smell!

I went on the web site for the Freshaire line to discover that the paint contains vinyl acetate which may cause cancer in rats. So does no voc mean not harmful? I am constantly searching for the best products in this new age of “greenwashing”

Published by Kate Pietrowski, RN, L.Ac.

Kate Pietrowski, RN, L.Ac. is a fitness instructor, weight loss consultant, acupuncturist, nurse, and a health/wellness advocate. As a nurse she worked at the University of Pennsylvania, Friends Hospital, and Bayada. Her nursing experience includes working in mental health/addictions, cardiology, rheumatology, women’s health, and general medicine. As a fitness instructor, Kate has taught a wide spectrum of group fitness classes, trained clients one on one, and worked at a wellness center at the FBI. Kate’s been studying health, nutrition, herbal medicine, and holistic studies for over 20 years.

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