As we all know, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) can be found in many common products (such as paints, glues, carpets) and can occur both naturally and synthetically.
VOC’s contribute to smog air pollution, ground level ozone (a long range pollutant) and health issues (especially for those with asthma and allergies – like myself!!), which is why they’re regulated in manufacturing.
The CSIRO’s Australian Paint Approval Scheme (APAS) specifies acceptable VOC levels for paint specifications and standards in Australia. Paint manufacturers must specify, within their Product Data Sheets or Material Safety Data Sheets (or equivalent), the VOC levels of their products.
APAS VOC levels can be found below.
As a rule of thumb, premium paint lines have the lowest VOC levels, which is why I have compiled a list of popular paint brands (premium interior lines only) below to see how they stack up against the APAS VOC levels. I’ve also included premium oil based enamels to show (my old school painters especially!) that premium acrylic based paints are an excellent lower VOC alternative.
The above data was collected from current data sheets (as of September 2019) located on the applicable paint manufacturer’s website.
In addition to the above, the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) administer a Green Star certification in recognition of paints with low VOC levels. Choosing Green Star certified products can help create a healthy place for people, minimise your environmental footprint and build a better future for us all. From what I could locate online, the below are the VOC levels which warrant GBCA compliance.
Interior Low Sheen: <1g/litre
Ceiling Flat: <14g/litre
Trim Enamels: <75g/litre
Interestingly, most of the above paints qualify for the GBCA Green Star rating - great news!!
So, whether you are environmentaI or health conscience (or both!), I hope you find the above useful when you're researching low VOC paint options for your next painting project.
Take care, happy painting!
Victoria, The Colour Retreat
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