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Before you paint this winter – check the VOC’s

By Roy Thomas - November 5, 2018

Why should you be worried about VOC’s in Paint used in your home? Especially during the winter months?

First, what are VOC’s?

VOC is an acronym for “Volatile Organic Compounds”. VOC’s are found in many building materials and are partially responsible for that “Paint Smell” that comes with fresh paint. They are emitted in gas form while using products containing them. Some VOC’s can be dangerous to your health and are now regulated by the Government. In fact, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), found in a *1985 study that “levels of about a dozen organic pollutants to be 2 to 5 times higher inside homes than outside.”

The same study stated that some of the health effects can be headaches and eye, nose, and throat irritation, just to name a few.

What should you use to paint inside during the winter when you don’t want to open windows?


Many paint companies advertise “Low VOC” paints. The problem with this, is what does “Low VOC Mean”? There is no standard definition of what a “Low VOC” Paint is. One paint can have a “lower” VOC content than another paint and so it can be stated to have “Low VOC”. When concerned about VOC’s in paint, a good place to look is the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Council (LEED), or GREENGUARD. If a paint is LEED or GREENGUARD certified, you are in much better hands.

Companies that make “NO VOC” Paints can be found among the best; such as Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore. Not all paints made by these companies are LOW or NO VOC, so be careful. An advantage of LOW and NO VOC paint is little to no odor – perfect for indoor painting during the winter.

So, before you go buy paint for that spare bedroom, play room, or loft this winter, check for a GREENGUARD or LEED certification and breathe a little easier.