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Paints, Finishes and Adhesives

DEFINITION
CONSIDERATIONS
COMMERCIAL STATUS
IMPLEMENTATION ISSUES
GUIDELINES

  1. Low VOC Paints Characteristics
  2. Low Biocide Finishes
  3. Natural Finishes
  4. Adhesives

CSI Numbers

    Division 9 – Finishes


DEFINITIONS:

This section addresses finishes such as paint, stain, and varnishes and adhesives that can be applied on-site.



CONSIDERATIONS:

Most finishes and adhesives contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which outgas and adversely affect indoor air quality. Lower VOC and non-VOC products are now readily available from many companies, however.

The Environmental Choice(TM) Program in Canada has established minimal VOC standards for finishes to receive their Eco Logo(TM). The Environmental Choice(TM) program recognizes negative impacts on the environment and people from VOCs. California and a number of other states have now adopted and sometimes improved upon those Canadian standards.

Low biocide paints avoid the fungicides and mildewcides typically added to latex paint to extend shelf life. These additives are considered harmful to indoor air quality and are specifically avoided by environmentally sensitive persons.

Natural plant/mineral-based finishes and adhesives are available from a number of sources, though they’re still hard to find in many big-box stores. They cost 1 to 1 1/2 times more than standard products. Low biocide and VOC paints also cost more. Low biocide paints can spoil if not used quickly.

Choose a low or no-VOC paint

VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are the fumes that you smell while you paint, and sometimes several days after. A VOC is an organic chemical that becomes a breathable gas at room temperature. Some examples are benzene, ethylene glycol, vinyl chloride and mercury.

VOCs in paint usually come from additives to the paint, such as fungicides, biocides, color, and spreadability agents. High levels of VOCs in paints can cause headaches, allergic reactions, and health problems in the very old, very young and in those with chronic illnesses.

Concerns about air pollution and hazardous waste have greatly reduced the use of oil-based paints which can release high amounts of VOCs and contain toxic solvents. Alkyd-based paints and latex paints are much safer, but some still have high levels of VOCs.

Because of health and safety concerns, paint manufacturers around the country have made great strides in formulating paints that have no or low-VOCs and that provide excellent results.

Ask question, read labels

When buying paint, work with a knowledgeable paint representative at your local paint or hardware store. Seek out someone that can answer questions about environmental concerns as well as offer application advice. Let your paint representative know that you want to use no VOC paint, or the lowest VOC paint available. If you plan to hire a painting contractor, specify that no or low-VOC paints be used.

You can determine the VOC content of paint by reading the label. It is usually expressed in terms of grams per liter. The most environmentally-friendly choice is to buy a paint with no VOC’s. But if the paint you need for the job contains VOCs, try to choose a paint no higher than 250 grams per liter for latex, and if you must use oil-based paint, no higher than 380 grams per liter. These numbers are usually on the label or on the official product literature. If these numbers are not available, consider choosing another brand.

Painting tips

If the paint you choose does contain some VOCs, there are ways to lessen their impact on the air quality in your home. Below are some helpful hints:

  • Make sure your work area is well ventilated with outside air. Use a fan to make sure that fresh, outside air is continually moving into and out of your work area.
  • If possible, leave the house for a while after you paint. Keep the area vented to the outside while you are gone.
  • If you cannot leave, try to stay out the painted rooms for along as possible. Shut the doors and the air ducts, and open the windows to that area.

Proper clean-up and disposal of paint

Proper disposal of paint protects you, garbage collection workers, and the environment.

If you’ve used latex paint, wash brushes and rollers in the sink with soap and warm water. Don’t rinse your brushes on the grass or in the gutter-it could end up in a nearby creek where it could harm fish and wildlife. Take the lids off of any empty latex paint cans and let them dry, then throw these into the trash with the lids off. If you have paint left, check with neighbors to see if they need any. Any unused portions may also be taken to your area’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection Center.

If you’ve used oil-based paint, take unused portions to the Hazardous Waste facility. Solvents used to clean equipment should also be taken to the Hazardous Waste collection facility for disposal. Do not rinse brushes or equipment on the ground or in the gutter.

 

 

Commercial
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Implementation
Issues
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Water-Based Adhesives Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory
Minimal VOCs Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory
Low-Biocide Satisfactory Satisfactory in Limited Conditions Satisfactory in most conditions Satisfactory Satisfactory in most conditions Satisfactory
Natural Paints Satisfactory Satisfactory in Limited Conditions Satisfactory in Limited Conditions Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory
Satisfactory Satisfactory
Satisfactory in most conditions Satisfactory in most conditions
Satisfactory in Limited Conditions Satisfactory in Limited Conditions
Unsatisfactory or Difficult Unsatisfactory or Difficult


COMMERCIAL STATUS

TECHNOLOGY:

The finishes and adhesives discussed in this section perform satisfactorily.

SUPPLIERS:

Low VOC paints are becoming available from major paint manufacturers and can be obtained locally. Water based adhesives are also locally available. Low biocide and natural paints must be ordered. There are some local sources for natural paints.

COST:

Water-based and solvent-free adhesives and low VOC paints are competitively priced. Low biocide paints and natural finishes are significantly more expensive.


IMPLEMENTATION ISSUES

FINANCING:

Available.

PUBLIC ACCEPTANCE:

Materials that are considered more healthful have a broad-based appeal. Some people may feel that mildew problems could occur in paints that do not have a mildewcide such as a low-biocide paint.

REGULATORY:

None.


GUIDELINES

1.0 Low VOC paints characteristics

1.1 Water-based paints

Not formulated or manufactured with formaldehyde.

Not formulated or manufactured with halogenated solvents.

Not formulated or manufactured with mercury or mercury compounds or tinted with pigments of lead, cadmium, chromium VI and their oxides.

VOC content does not exceed 250 g/l.

Not formulated or manufactured with aromatic hydrocarbons.

1.2 Solvent-based paints

Not formulated or manufactured with formaldehyde.

Not formulated or manufactured with mercury or mercury compounds or tinted with pigments of lead, cadmium, chromium VI and their oxides.

Not formulated or manufactured with aromatic hydrocarbons in excess of 10% by weight.

VOC content does not exceed 380 g/l.

Not contain any halogenated solvent.

2.0 Low biocide finishes

Pesticides and preservatives are added to water based paints and should be in very low levels. Levels as low as 0.01 to 0.025% can be effective in preventing spoilage and not be adverse to health.

Avoid formulations with formaldehyde.

3.0 Natural Finishes

Typically require thinning.

May require that colors be added by applicator.

4.0 Adhesives

Select water-based adhesives.

Companies supplying natural finishes often offer natural adhesives.