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Green Smart Magazine : 2009_new
paint a clearer picture > story > Jeanie Watson greenpaint GreenPainters Ltd is a not-for-profit organisation and an Ecospecifier Industry Partner. Its role is to provide training, advice and the skills to promote the latest sustainable coatings technology, as well as to represent painters and manufacturers who are leaders in the green building industry. The GreenPainters program aims to cut VOC emissions by participating contractors by 92 per cent, and eliminate ground and storm water contamination from wash-up. Waste- water produced by a GreenPainter is treated and/or recycled to EPA guidelines, or can be used directly on gardens without harming any plants, or contaminating groundwater. For more information visit greenpainters.com.au GreenPainters ne of the most simple and effective ways to update a room or house is to change the colour of the walls or façade. But how does 'toxic turquoise' or 'carcinogenic cerise' grab you? It's an unfortunate fact that many paints that enhance, protect and preser ve your home can also be harmful to you and your family. 'All paints are chemicals, either naturally occurring or man-made,' says Daniel Wurm, managing director of GreenPainters Ltd (see box below). 'We are constantly discovering the impact that chemicals have on our health. Decades ago it was lead, now it is VOCs.' Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are defined by the World Health Organization as 'all organic compounds (substances made up of predominantly carbon and hydrogen) with boiling temperatures in the range of 50-- 260oC, excluding pesticides'. These chemicals are found in various products ranging from paints and fabrics to room deodorisers and cleaning substances, and often have an odour. In general, the stronger the odour in products such as these, the more VOCs they contain. According to the Department of Water, Environment, Heritage and the Arts, the impact of VOCs on humans can range from respiratory irritation, headaches, and loss of coordination to nausea and damage to the liver, kidneys and central nervous system. Some VOCs can cause cancer in animals while some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans. This concerning information has led to the release of low-VOC alternatives to almost all kinds of paints and coatings, including enamels and primers. But the primary reason for choosing low-VOC paints is that VOCs react in the atmosphere to create ozone gas, which contributes to smog formation and causes crop damage, says Daniel Wurm. 'Up to nine per cent of all VOC emissions come from paints,' he says. 'That is why builders and consumers interested in sustainability should use low-VOC paints for exterior applications as well as interior.' With harmful toxins in many paints, is there such a thing as a 'fresh' coat? O risk factors The long-lasting impacts of VOCs depend on the: • concentration of the vapour in the air • composition • length of exposure. 'ALL PAINTS ARE CHEMICALS, EITHER NATURALLY OCCURRING OR MAN-MADE' greensmart 2009 15 Photos courtesy of GreenPainters Ltd