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The Effects of VOCs in Paint on Miami Beach Indoor Air Quality



VOCs

Indoor air is one of the top five health risks according to the Environmental Protection Agency in the USA. One of the main contributors to a deteriorating indoor air quality, in Miami Beach, are the paints and solvents used during interior painting projects.

Solvents contain VOCs, which stands for Volatile Organic Compounds. Volatile Organic Compounds are compounds that have high enough vapor pressures to vaporize under normal temperatures and conditions and enter the Earth’s atmosphere. They can be synthetic or they can be natural but that has no affect on whether they are harmful to the atmosphere or inhabitants of the indoors of buildings in Miami Beach, FL.

VOCs were used extensively in the manufacturing of paints, coatings, glues and other construction materials. Oil based paints and solvents in particular had a very high level of VOCs. The levels in latex or acrylic based paints were lower but still significant enough to be harmful.

In the 80s, especially after scientists started realizing the effect on the Earth’s ozone layer, governments started regulating the toxic levels of many substances including paints and coatings. It should be noted here, that the focus of governments and industry later, was mostly on Volatile Organic Compounds within paint, that affect the atmosphere by reacting with sunlight to produce low levels of ozone.

Although the main reasons for doing so were atmospheric and the damage to the environment, the result was a closer look at the health effects of VOCs on indoor air. From eye irritations to asthma attacks, dizziness and nausea, to the long term effects on the liver and kidneys and cancer, solvents, Exposure to VOC’s is now well known to be very harmful. Regulations aside, this new discussion and knowledge has educated consumers on the harmful effects of paints and solvents. That “smell of new paint” was not associated with fresh or clean any more, and homeowners began looking for other solutions to their Miami Beach interior painting projects.

Paint manufacturers responded to this new reality by reducing the amount of VOCs in paint and producing and marketing paints that contain less harmful substances. Almost every Miami Beach painting contractor now offers a low to zero VOC line or two of paint, available and widely marketed. When the marketplace and industry are after the same general purpose, the obvious result is better and safer paint.

Taking this issue to the next level, closer attention is paid to the effects of other substances in paint that are not regulated for atmospheric purposes by the government. More money is spent on Research and Development on how to produce paint that is safe to use and be exposed to. As a result, new paints are produced by the mainstream manufacturers that claim to be, and many times are, safer to use. Beyond the “me too” hype of everything being sold being environmentally friendly, paints now are safer and getting to be safer, to consumers and applicators in Miami Beach.

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