Why Avoiding High VOC or High PGE Paints is a Good Idea


Recommendations for matte black paint

Most of us don’t think too much about how many things we come into contact with that have paint or varnish on them. We work and live in buildings that have painted walls, put our children to bed in painted cribs or beds, and even our floors often have coats of paint or varnish on them. However, perhaps this is something we should be more aware of, especially as there are still paints with harmful toxins in them, that we’re exposed to on a regular basis. Baby safe paint for cribs, for example, is something you could look for if you’re painting a new crib — low VOC paints and paints not high in PGE (ropylene glycol and glycol ethers) are good ones to look for. Since there’s a growing awareness, some paint brands/companies may now showcase that, making them easy to find.

Why are High VOC Paints or High PGE Concentrations Bad?

VOC is an abbreviation that means volatile organic compound — but not organic in the good way you’re likely thinking of! Many VOCs (like benzene and methylene chloride) are carcinogens, identified by the United States Environmental Protection Agency to cause cancer. And, VOCs are also the part of paint that make you feel headachy after you’ve been painting for awhile — anything that sets off that kind of reaction in your body can’t be good for you!

There’s still some research being done on PGE’s, but early studies have shown that they can cause allergies and other breathing problems with children. It’s not clear yet what long term effects can be attributed to PGE’s, but the short term results aren’t hopeful. So if you’re putting together a nursery, definitely look for baby safe paint for cribs!

What are Some of the Health Effects From VOCs or PGE’s?

CBC Marketplace reported that if VOC levels were over 500 ppb (parts per billion), people who have chemical sensitivities could face issues. And, interestingly enough, a study done at the TIEQ lab at the Syracuse Center of Excellence showed that cognitive scores were improved by 101% (compared to traditional workplaces) when VOC levels were brought down to 50 micrograms per cubic meter and 40 cubic feet per minute of outdoor air.

Even more worryingly, some long term effects of VOC exposure have been shown to lead to cancer, central nervous system damage, and contribute to liver and kidney damage.

Sweden has done much of the research when it comes to PGE’s and their Dampness in Buildings and Health study found that children who already had many allergic symptoms and were exposed to PGE were twice as at risk to develop allergic sensitivities to other allergic triggers.

Furthermore, those who had PGE concentrations in their bedrooms in the top 25% of other participants were 100% more likely to have asthma, 150% more likely to have eczema, and 320% more likely to have rhinitis (commonly known as hay fever).

What are the Advantages of Being More Aware About the Paints and Varnishe’s You’re Using?

Whether you’re looking for baby safe paint for cribs or a new floor varnish, being more aware about what type of paint or varnish you’re using is good for your health and the health of your family. It can help keep you safer both short-term and long-term.

And looking at eco friendly primer or paint can also help protect the
environment, which will help our children in the future. It helps you leave less of a footprint behind, and helps support eco-friendly companies. This in turn, can encourage other companies, who aren’t producing eco-friendly or non-toxic products to perhaps start doing so, making a better world for everyone.

Seeking out baby safe paint for cribs or nursery walls or looking for non-toxic clear coat paint is a responsible choice — not just for your health, but for the health of the environment overall.

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