VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) are carbon based compounds that readily vaporize into the air and as they enter the air they produce ozone which causes indoor air pollution and can lead to many nasty health issues including nausea, headaches, irritable eyes. VOC’s have also been linked to cancers such as lymphoma and leukemia.
That is why the push for low VOC and zero VOC paints is so huge. Zero VOC paint can cost $30-$50 a gallon but low VOC paint is more inline with the price of regular paint and is much more environmentally friendly than traditional paint.
When shopping for Zero or Low VOC paint look at both the base and the colorant levels of lbs/gal or g/l of VOC. VOC levels are expressed in pounds per gallon (lbs/gal) or grams per liter (g/l). Interior paint is given a Green Seal if it has a VOC content less than 50 g/l (for flat sheen) or 150 g/l (non-flat sheen).
Latex paints use water as their solvent and carrier, allowing both easier cleanup and generally lower toxicity than oil-based paints. Today, latex paints are equal or better in quality and durability than conventional oil-based formulas but there are some oil-based paints that are considered low VOC because their chemicals have been altered.
Here are a few from some leading manufacturers.
Duration Home Interior Acrylic Latex from Sherwin-Williams
Aurora Interior Paint – Benjamin Moore
Manor Hall Timeless – Pittsburgh Paints
Horizon – Cloverdale Paint