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Picking Truly Zero-VOC Paint

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Architects Rachel and Edward Martin, (n)Habit in Nashville,TN
Expectant parents often transform their anticipation about the baby’s room into a colorful celebration of painting the walls. Parents Edward and Rachel Martin understand the tendency; they’ve been there.  But as architects specializing in environmental design, the Martins recommend that clean indoor air might be a better gift for baby than the typical paint job.  Perhaps you’ve heard about Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs, and a minimal amount of EPA regulation of them.  Rachel Martin says the VOC limits only cover some substances that have been tested, not all potentially toxic ingredients in paints.

Smart paint shopping can be especially tricky if you want any color other than plain white. Typically when you buy paint that can be labeled zero-VOC, that’s just the base, before you add your favorite color.  Martin explains, “Some of the highest concentrations of VOCs are found in the colorants and because they weren’t included in the can to begin with, they’re not required to tell you that once they squirt that colorant in there, your “zero-VOC” pain is no longer such (if it even was in the first place).”

The Martins carry one of the few true VOC paints at their (n)Habit design store in Nashville, Tennessee. They’ve found that the American Pride brand they carry, along with a true VOC-free colorant, offers a fairly economical approach to what health-conscious consumers are looking for.

The advice to avoid VOCs extends to other things that might also be in the baby’s room, from carpet to formaldehyde-containing cabinetry to lacquers on furniture. Martin says substances can off-gas in the home for months or even years. This mom is passionate about her family’s business because she’s passionate about the health of her own family.  “Your health is intricately attached to the air you breathe and the places you inhabit.  If your world is full of chemicals, you will be as well.”

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