(See also Ecolabels for Paint, below)
This Guide recommends plant-based paints, first and foremost. However the next best thing for those with extremely frugal paint budgets or who insist on conventional paints, are the following water-based or acrylic paints 1.
There is a Dulux paint product on the market called Breathe Easy 2, which has zero V.O.C. levels and produces no off-gassing or fumes during and after painting. The paint is "Certified No Smog Producing Ingredients" by Scientific Certification Systems 3.
Breathe Easy paint allows room occupants to breathe slightly less polluted air but does not actually 'breathe' itself, ie, allow a compensatory moisture exchange with the atmosphere. (This ability to 'breathe' is an attribute of most non-toxic vegetable-based paints.) It's solvent-free nature does, however, seem to be a step ahead of other conventional paints which give off toxic fumes for hours, days or even months after application, depending upon their composition.
Pascol Paints, Taubmans, Wattyl, and numerous other proprietary and generic brand manfacturers 4, all make water-based acrylic paints which may have fairly low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOC's). VOC levels of about 5-10 percent have been achieved in many conventional paints, and are the next best in comparison with Dulux's Breathe Easy (which has no solvents at all). Bristol Paints sells 'Luja', which also has minimal quantities of harmful vapours. Murobond and Murowash paints 5 also have zero or low levels of volatiles (Muro also makes an effort to source much of its ingredients locally). Question your paint manufacturer about the tendency of their brands to give off fumes (off-gas) during and after drying.
The Guide urges you to please take basic precautions, even with low-fuming paints: wear gloves and an approved filter-mask if necessary, work in a well ventilated room, etc. Also, please wash up implements and dispose of waste paint with care.
The European Union now awards ecolabels based on its own criteria for a range of consumer products, including paint. To date, 5 companies have been awarded ecolabels for paints in their ranges:
ICI in the UK for their fast-drying Dulux gloss paint;
Nordsjo AB, Sweden for an interior paint;
HP Glugger, Sweden for five types of paint;
Alcro-Beckers AB, Sweden for an interior paint;
Sadolin farver A/S, Denmark;
Tintas Dyrup SA, Portugal for Dyrumat Ecologico.
1. Some paint manufacturers are now claiming that oil-based paints - the most toxic in terms of off-gassing - are virtually obsolete, due to the quality and durability of water-based technologies.
2. Dulux Customer Service - ph: 13 2525
3. See Accredited Certification Bodies.
4. Pascol Paints Customer Service - ph: ( 666 4311)
5. See under Non Toxic Paints in the Directory.