Part Two: The Problem With Paint

Part Two: The Problem With Paint

IMPORTANT NOTE: This article was accurate as of the date it was published, and was signed off on by all of the manufacturer sources quoted. That said, manufacturers frequently change their formulations and ingredients, so this article, given its age, becomes background. DO NOT rely on this article for purchasing these manufacturers’ current products. The questions are relatively simple, but if you would like help in getting guaranteed answers about certifications on a current product, sign up at:

You need a glossary of chemicals, “green” certifications and standards to understand what the manufacturers are talking about

So, here it is:


Acetone: A solvent that may cause dizziness, respiratory tract irritation, headache and central nervous system depression.

Ammonia: A gas, possible carcinogen and respiratory tract irritant.

Aldehydes: Include Benzaldehyde, Propanol and Acetaldehyde. They may bind to lung and liver cells and cause autoimmune reactions. Also includes Formaldehyde One, a formaldehyde precursor, created when certain paint ingredients react during application and drying and is considered a probable carcinogen.

Biocides: Used to inhibit mold growth. May contribute to formation of formaldehyde, a carcinogen.

Crystalline Silica: Quartz. Dust is a serious hazard and carcinogen but usually does not become airborne when painting, unless sanded.

Ethanol: A form of alcohol that can keep the body from processing and eliminating other chemicals.

Glycols: Ethylene Glycol is a more toxic wetting agent that may be used in paint. Propylene Glycol is preferred. It is a VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) but is also an FDA-approved in foods.

Masking Agents: Chemicals added to cover up paint odors.

Pigments: Range from being VOC-free glycol to VOCs and biocides that contribute to formaldehyde formation.

“Green” Certifications and Standards

CHPS – Collaborative for High Performance Schools, California Section 01350, used as an emission limit standard by “green” certifications in many categories, including carpet.

GREENGUARD Certification – GREENGUARD Environmental Institute, third-party emissions testing with set limits products cannot exceed.

GREENGUARD Children & Schools – Carries more stringent limits than standard GREENGUARD

Green Seal – Third party testing and certification.

Green Promise – Benjamin Moore Paint Company’s own “green” standard, which is says exceeds emission limits set by standard GREENGUARD and Green Seal.

GreenSure – Sherwin-Williams’ own standard for maximum performance and design that reduces environmental impact and meets the most stringent regulatory requirements.

Green Wise – A certification developed by the Coatings Research Group Inc. – an international association of paint and coatings manufacturers.

Proposition 65 – A California law that requires the governor to publish an annual list of chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity.

Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) Indoor Air Advantage and Indoor Air Advantage Gold certifications: Third-party emissions with set limits products cannot exceed.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) — The U.S. Green Building Council’s “green” building rating system.

1 Comment
  • Pingback:Part Three: The Problem With Paint | Natural Interiors® Blog
    Posted at 11:29h, 19 January Reply

    […] and the products’ emissions have been independently tested and certified to meet limits set by Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) Indoor Air Advantage Gold certification. But, Watts adds, there are further considerations his company has addressed, that […]

Post A Comment