Be careful when choosing a paint, and spend your days in a house without harsh chemicals on its walls!
It may seem harmless to treat and color your walls and other objects, but it can carry many environmental and health hazards. Most paints contain high proportions of volatile organic compounds (VOC) and solvents that pollute indoor air, which is bad for your health. This is part of the reasons why indoor air quality is worse on average than outdoor city air.
The most common wall paints are emulsion or dispersion paints, because they are easy to use, and are suitable for most surfaces. The majority of dispersion paints are made of synthetic resins, water, artificial colorings, preservatives, anti-foaming and consistency improving materials. Due to the preservatives used in these types of paints, formaldehyde is released when you apply them, which is one of the most known VOC. Formaldehyde is a colorless gas on room-temperature, that has various health hazards, so it is strictly regulated in the EU. It is a human carcinogen according to the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer.
This sounds really bad; especially if you consider that these are on the walls of our homes, and in institutions where children spend most of their time: nurseries, kindergartens and schools. When you paint the walls of your newborn baby's nursery, you should consider these facts, because the paints release the most compunds in the first months after painted. Sometimes the fumes are measurable even after few years of drying.
Fortunately, there were many positive changes in paint manufacturing in the last decades. Healthy, eco-friendly products appeared on the market too. Many harmful ingredients that were used 20 years ago have been phased out by major European manufacturers, like certain pigments (e.g.: lead, chromate, and cadmium), fillers (e.g. asbestos) and additives (e.g organic organotin compounds).
If you want to do your best to live in a healthy environment with your family, make sure to choose natural paints that won’t release volatile organic compounds.
The best natural paints:
- mostly use materials that have been known and used for centuries or even thousands of years,
- aren’t or just slightly are modified chemically,
- are made of high levels of renewable materials.
- are biodegradable,
- are made in an eco-friendly way,
- won’t harm your health,
- ensure that the surface is still breathable after treatment.
These paints use renewable plant, animal and mineral based substances many of which come from organic farming. The ingredients are consisting of dyes (earth and mineral pigments), fillers (limestone powder, marble flour), binders (e.g. natural resins, plant oils, casein, plant and animal originated waxes), solvents (water, plant essential oils, and alcohol) and excipients (plant based, like ammonium soaps, mineral silica, essential oils).
Some natural paints come in a powdered form. This may sound weird at first, but it has a very good reason why it is beneficial:
- water is available in your home, so it would be unnecessary to make the product more expensive by adding water which increase shipping costs;
- it needs fewer packaging, and it can be sold in paper bags rather than plastic buckets;
- as these paints are completely preservative free, they expire 1-2 days after adding water to them. So the powdered form ensures long expiration dates without any preservatives.
Emulsion paints contain preservatives, mostly Isothiazolinone and its derivatives. This compound kills bacteria and fungus, but is also harsh on the human body: it irritates and harms the mucous membranes, it is an allergen, and it can cause eczema and other skin problems. The manufacturers of natural paints can avoid all these effects by selling paint in a powdered form.
One of the most reliable natural paint manufacturer is the German Kreidezeit Naturfarben GmbH. The company was founded in 1988 by Gerd Ziesemann, who wanted to prove that there’s a natural alternative to the polluting and unhealthy products of the chemical industry.
The factory in Sehlem (in Lower Saxony) have been expanding ever since, yet it remained to be a true manufacture. It runs in an old wood-mill, and it uses centuries old processes, with tried recipes, only using natural, mostly renewable materials. They even compost the waste that is created in the process!
Do you want your home to be a healthier place? You can find Kreidezeit products at Ecoizm.com!
Read the second part of this article about natural surface treatments, here!