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  • Writer's pictureMehnaz Khan


Ever since I have become a mom, I have turned into this very finicky person, who feeds her kids only organic veggies and fruits, antibiotics free meat, and disinfects the house with vinegar and vodka. The reason being that I want to keep my children away from toxins and chemicals as much as possible.

One department where I had never given a thought about toxins and had never even imagined the harmful effects is wall paint. Conforming to the common believe that once wall paint is dry, it has stopped gassing and the space is safe to live in.

Until last week when Kate from Balanced Home Balanced Life dropped bombs on my IG LIVE that blew my mind off. Now if you missed that LIVE, don’t worry I’m summarizing it all below.

Why it’s so important to focus on healthy interior paint

If you do some easy maths, you will notice that walls are the largest real estate in your home, and to cover them with paint means that you are using a lot of the product, and if that product contains toxins, than all of those surfaces create a large volume of air pollution.

The bad news is that paint doesn’t stop off-gassing once it dries, and even once it doesn’t smell any more. It can off-gas for months or even years.

Chemicals to avoid and the concerns they raise

Volatile Organic Compounds - VOCs

VOCs are vast group of chemical compounds that not only have a strong order, but are suspected or known carcinogens.

Not only are they bad for the environment as they lead to smog, but there long-term health effects includes damage to the kidneys, liver and the nervous system.

They also trigger immediate health effects such as headache, dizziness, lung irritation and vision problems.

Low VOC is still considered toxic. The VOC content is 50 grams per liter, where as a zero-VOC paint has less than 5 grams per litter.

The addition of colorants raises the VOC in the paint. Therefore darker colors have higher VOCs.

Antifungal / Antimicrobial Additives

According to paint manufactures antimicrobial additives or Triclosan has been added to paint to resist mould and mildew growth. But Kate shares that these chemicals have no benefit besides increasing the shelf life of the paint.

These chemicals used to be found in liquid hand soaps, but thankfully the FDA has banned them now. Triclosan has been linked to cause developmental, hormonal and reproductive problems.

Formaldehyde releasing preservatives

These are usually not listed on label or safety data sheets as they are added in small amounts, but still need to be avoided as Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and asthmagen and can linger for years.

Oil based paints

Kate also suggests to avoid oil based and petroleum based paints whenever possible as the VOC content in them is very high and also clean up for these paints requires the use of dangerous chemicals that are terrible for the planet.

Other Chemicals

Other chemical additives found in paint the aren’t VOCs can disrupt hormones and cause reproductive harm.

How to choose a Healthy Interior Paint

Thankfully there is a way for you to choose a safe paint that will not harm the health of your family.

Green Seal - 11 (GS-11)

The Green Seal - 11 is a third party certification that ensures the quality of the product and the production from start to finish is safe and meets standards. They safeguard the health of the manufacturers, purchasers, consumers and the planet.

Not only do they set limits on the content of VOCs, heavy metals, antimicrobial, carcinogens and other toxic substances added but also regulate performance of the paint. They also make sure that the VOC is controlled in the base paint as well as the colorant, so when the two are combined, the toxic levels are still low.

Kate urges that when shopping for healthy interior paint, look out for the Green Seal - 11.

Some Healthy Interior Paint options

Following are some safe paints that Kate recommends and uses

Latex Paint

ECOS paints - Lullabye paints for nursery

Mineral Based Paint

Romabio - potassium Silicate , toxin-free

Other Non-Toxic Paints

Linseed Oil - Ottoson

Milk Paint - The Real Milk Paint

Tips for being safe while painting

  • Make sure the space is well ventilated by opening windows if it’s warm outside. Paint dries faster in warm air than in cold.

  • If it’s cold outside, use an air purifier.

  • If you are painting in a room with an exhaust fan like a bathroom or kitchen, turn it on.

  • Try to paint when it’s not raining or very humid. Humidity slows drying time.

  • Paint in thin layers and don’t paint the second coat until the first is completely dry.

  • Dispose of any paint you don’t use at your town’s hazardous waste collection, as VOCs can escape through the packaging.

  • Don’t paint when you’re pregnant.

Research shows that we spend 60% of our lives inside our homes. Hence it’s essential to create healthy indoor air quality and we can do so by using clean and eco-friendly products.

Share with us if you know the paint on your walls is toxic free??

About Kate Hamblet

If you are looking to make your home as healthy as possible and would like to learn more, head over to Kate’s website.

Kate Hamblet, the founder of the Healthy Home Design podcast is a licensed architect, who is passionate about helping health conscious families, just like yours, create homes that will enhance their health, happiness and longevity.


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