Conventional paints contain volatile organic chemicals, or VOCs, that are toxic to the human body long after the paint has dried. Babies are particularly sensitive to the toxins in traditional paints because their immune systems are not fully developed. Whenever possible, choose zero-VOC paint for your whole home, and especially for the walls of the baby's room, and any furniture such as cribs and highchairs with which your baby will come in contact.
Why Zero VOC Paint Was Developed
According to the EPA, indoor air is three times more polluted than outdoor air. One of the leading causes is high-VOC paint which releases low level toxic emissions for years after it is applied. Consumer demand and environmental regulations have forced paint manufacturers to rethink their products, leading to the development of paints designated "zero-VOC," "low-VOC" and "natural." These products are safer for baby and the whole family; they are water-based, have little or no hazardous fumes during application and no odor or toxic emissions once cured.
Reasons to Avoid Using High-VOC Paint
High-VOC paint contains benzene, a sweet-smelling chemical that emits fumes. Highly toxic upon inhalation, benzene is widely known to cause chromosomal damage, cancer and leukemia. Benzene is the reason that high-VOC paint causes headaches, dizziness and in worst-case scenarios, loss of consciousness.
Toulene, a noxious industrial solvent, is another highly toxic component to high-VOC paint. Like benzene, toulene is sweet-smelling and a product of the petroleum refining process. A dangerous neurotoxin, toulene depresses the nervous system, causing lightheadedness, headaches, confusion, dizziness and memory loss.
Formaldehyde is a carcinogen and the only VOC found in paint that is regulated by the EPA. It is strong smelling and considered to be an allergen and asthma trigger. Formaldehyde is highly toxic through inhalation, skin absorption and ingestion.
Natural Paints & Finishes
Natural paints are manufactured from raw ingredients such as water, natural minerals such as clay, talcum and chalk, essential oils, plant dyes, plant oils, milk protein, resin, beeswax and food-grade ingredients. These paints are considered the safest ones to use for health and the environment. Being water-based, they clean up with soap and water, and it is uncommon for anyone to show allergic reactions or sensitivities to natural paint and finishes, making it an ideal choice to paint baby furniture.
Sources for Low-Voc and Zero-VOC Paint
Many low- and zero-VOC paints are available only in light colors. However, many manufacturers are making their safe, environmentally-friendly paints in the same colors as high-VOCs. With its easy application, negligible price difference and similar performance to high-VOC paint, zero-VOC paint is the perfect choice for painting baby furniture.
The following products are zero-VOC: Aglaia is a plant-based natural paint, Livos is an organic paint made from all natural ingredients, Auro paint is solvent-free, and Anna Sova Paint is made from milk casein, tianium dioxide and food-grade ingredients. Benjamin Moore makes a zero-VOC paint called Natura that is available in a full spectrum of colors.