The Low Down on VOC's:
According to the EPA, indoor air pollution is 2 to 5 times higher than that of outdoor air; this is mainly due to the off-gassing from within our homes. It is estimated that 10% of the ozone depleting substances in the urban United States come from paints and other surface coatings. The harmful components in these products are the volatile organic compounds (or VOC's). VOC's are organic chemical compounds emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. Normally found in the environment as naturally occurring gasses (ie. methane), VOC's are harmful when used heavily indoors. Common household products contain high levels of VOC's including paints, paint strippers, wood preservatives, aerosol sprays, cleansers and disinfectants, moth repellents, air fresheners, stored fuels, automotive products, hobby supplies and dry-cleaned clothing. In addition, items like our carpet and furniture also play a huge role in indoor air pollution.
First Steps: The average gallon of paint contains at least 150 grams per liter of VOC and when you consider how many square feet of painted walls are in an average home, switching to a zero-VOC paint will have a dramatic impact on a home's air quality. Acrylic- Water Based Paints: Mythic Paint offers a variety of colors and sheens in their water based acrylic paint, and they are one of the few manufactures that offer zero-VOC in a high gloss sheen. (For more info www.mythicpaint.com or if you are in the neighborhood, visit the mythic paint store in Bedford Hills).
Once you've chosen a color, make sure to get an accurate amount of paint (one gallon usually gets you about 300- 350 square feet of coverage). Buying a sturdy nylon brush will save you time and money in the long run. If your project lasts more than one day, be sure to tightly wrap your brushes in used, clean produce or plastic bags. This will save you time and water.
Clean up is easy, water based acrylics only require soap and water for clean up. Remember, if you have splatters on floors, clothing or furniture, cleaning them up with soap and water before they dry is the only way to prevent them from staining.
Excess Paint: To keep left over paint, transfer excess paint into a smaller container (such as a glass jar) and close tightly. Turn upside down during storage to avoid contamination from air leakage.
If you don't want to hold on to your paint and you have less than a quarter of paint, open the lid and leave in a well ventilated area for a few days to dry. The can and paint can be separated after the paint has dried. Most water based paints are biodegradable and can be thrown in with your regular trash and recycle the steel paint can. If you have more than a quarter of paint left, consider donating to a local school, theater group, community center, a Habitat for Humanity chapter or Keep America Beautiful affiliates, or call you town to see if you have there is a local paint recycler. If donating is not an option, add Waste Paint HardenerTM (available at most paint stores), kitty litter, mulch, or shredded paper to act as a bulking/drying agent.
Hope these "greening" tips help with your spring painting project!