What Can I Give My 5 Year Old For Nausea Breathe Easy With Eco-Friendly Paint

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Breathe Easy With Eco-Friendly Paint

Many people complain of dizziness, nausea, and eye and throat irritation when living or working in newly painted areas. Less well known is the link that paint fumes have damage to the heart, lungs and kidneys. In fact, the National Cancer Institute completed a study in 2002 that showed a significant increase in cancer risk for people working in the painting trades. With that in mind, how can you choose the best paint option that is healthier and more environmentally friendly?

The odor emitted by paints is caused by volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in most paints and stains. These chemicals evaporate at room temperature and give off gases over several days to weeks. Oil-based paints contain the highest percentage of VOCs at 40% to 60% of the total volume. VOCs form solvents that break down and disperse other components. Water-based paints contain only 5% – 10% VOCs, but can still give off enough gas to cause nausea. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers a low VOC label that can be used for any oil-based product with a maximum VOC level of 380 gm/l (250 gm/l for water-based alternatives). Some companies offer paints with VOC content that is even lower, in the range of 0-100 g/l.

The fear of mold and mildew has increased the popularity of paints containing fungicides, and manufacturers have long used biocides to maintain the quality of their products. However, these also have health effects, as they are highly toxic and are released into the air. Some tests did not detect them in the environment until five years after the paint was applied. The chemicals that create the colors have also increased the toxicity of indoor air.

Alternatives are available from a number of companies that specialize in low VOC paints, fungicides, biocides and dyes. Natural colors made from elements found in citrus, balsam and some minerals create vibrant colors without so many harmful side effects. Although they contain VOCs of plant origin, they are free from fungicides and biocides, eliminating a major source of concern. Milk paints, popular with early Americans, offer another limited chemical choice. Named after its main ingredient, a milk protein called casein, milk colors offer a unique look without the risks.

Those who prefer the best of traditional paints and natural/milk paints can find latex products with low biocides and low VOCs. Latex and acrylic options are preferable to any oil or solvent based option.

You might consider using a wood stain instead of paint. However, stains have all the same problems as paints, with the added disadvantage of being high in pesticides and chemical quick-drying agents. Water-based paints and sealants are safer, and those made from beeswax or carnauba are the best of the poor. Darker stains contain fewer chemicals than lighter stains because the lighter ones must have additional protection against ultraviolet rays. Regardless of the type used, the painting environment should be well ventilated and people should avoid the area as much as possible in the first few days.

So if you want to choose the healthiest and most eco-friendly paint, look for natural milk or latex-based paints with low biocide and VOC content. Your body and the environment will thank you.

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