Posted On: Monday, March 18, 2013
Once considered a necessary fact of life, volatile organic compunds (VOC's) are on the path to obsolescence as new products and materials break into the old solvent-based market. VOC's, a natural component of widely used paints, finishes, adhesives, sealants and coatings, join in photochemical reactions to form dangerous particulate matter and ground level ozone that are linked to serious health problems. Environment Canada is currently developing federal guidelines to control VOC emissions from consumer and commercial products. A 2010 department discussion paper associates VOC's with thousands of premature deaths, hospital admissions and emergency room visits every year, along with increased rates of lung cancer and heart disease. It is a contributor to what has been called "sick building syndrome". For interior designers, the warnings are not few, but the range of alternative products is growing rapidly, driven by market forces. Designers are looking at and understanding the chemicals introduced to the interior environment. There are now waterborne alkyd formulas, where VOC's are reduced to almost zero. Lo- and no-VOC products consistently out perform outmoded chemical concoctions, as product developers choose to go where the market is headed. Prices will normalize, as premium labels disappear, and companies realize that it no longer makes sense to manufacture two separate streams of products. Check with your paint supplier for more information.