When one is expecting a baby they start to think of all the hazards and dangers in the home—sharp corners, hot objects, electrical outlets. But not all dangerous things can be seen. After I finished designing the Cherry Hill Nursery I started developing a scope of work document to send to potential contractors. I explained to my client that we should specify zero VOC coatings—paint, wood floor stain….everything.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are hydrocarbon solvents that are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. At room temperature and pressure, VOCs are released into the air during and after application. There are considered an indoor air contaminant, so they’re especially not safe for your baby and as you probably assumed, they aren’t safe for pregnant women either. The health effects vary from “no known health effect” to “highly toxic” (EPA.gov). In fact, there are limits of VOCs required by the Clean Air Act.
Some health effects of VOCs may include:
General eye and nose irritation
Damage to central nervous system
In extreme cases, cancer
Common sources of VOCs include:
adhesives and glues
I’m not saying that using regular coatings is the end of the world. But given some of the scary side effects, why not avoid VOCs altogether? Seems like a no-brainer. There are so many products out there that don’t have VOCs at all. There are companies that commit themselves to no VOCs in any of their product. No VOC products typically a bit cost a bit more, but the peace of mind is well worth a few more dollars.
There’s an added bonus to no VOC paint—you can’t smell a thing. My client called me just to tell me that she was amazed that she couldn’t smell the odor associated with paint. I’m telling you, once you have a room painted with no VOC paint you won’t want to turn back.