Although lead has been banned for use in paint for decades, other chemicals commonly found in paint have also been linked with significant health and environmental issues.
Most paints and stains contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other chemicals that create toxic fumes which can linger indoors for long periods of time. Some VOCs contribute to ozone depletion while others have known health risks. Propane sulfone, for example, is a powerful known carcinogen and is widely used in paints. The respiratory system and skin are the most significant routes for poisoning.
The good news is that low-VOC or no-VOC paints and stains are becoming more widely available to the consumer. See our list of products below for some examples.
If you must use products containing toxic chemicals, do so only in well-ventilated areas and avoid prolonged exposure. Do not allow children to sleep or play in newly painted rooms until the smell has completely dissipated.
Milk Paint – Apart from being a wonderful tool for making reproductions and/or striving for authentic and beautiful interior design, Milk Paint contains only ingredients that are all natural and will not harm the environment. Available from many online suppliers.
Benjamin Moore Natura Paint - Virtually odorless, quick-drying, zero-VOC paint provides a durable finish and comes in an unlimited number of colors.
BioShield Paint – The first company to introduce environmentally safe paints in the U.S. Products include wall finishes and paint, natural oils, interior and exterior wood stains, waxes and finishes for floors, furniture, cleaners, and maintenance products.
Eco-Wise – A leader in non-toxic eco-products–interiors, lawn and garden, baby products, toys, gifts, clothing and accessories–as well as products for “green building,” including paints, stains, flooring, sealants and insulation.
Weather-Bos – A revolutionary, environmentally safe paint and finish product that can be used on anything from children’s toys to commercial buildings, made with only natural, easy to apply ingredients.