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Painter's Guide

Painterís Guide to Clean Air

Choose paints that clean the air.  You can make the difference.
List of Super-Compliant Architectural Coating Manufacturers

Painter’s Guide Graphic

More than 15 million people live in the region covered by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD), which includes Orange and portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. Although air quality has improved over the last decade due to efforts in controlling emissions of ozone-forming compounds from cars and factories, the region still has the dirtiest air in the nation.

BENEFITS OF PAINT

Paint serves many uses. It beautifies, protects surfaces, as well as helps to conserve material resources.

WHAT IS THE CONTRIBUTION OF ARCHITECTURAL COATINGS TO THE OZONE PROBLEM?

One of the key ingredients contributing to ozone formation are solvents, which contain volatiles referred to as volatile organic compounds (VOCs).  These solvents are commonly found in many architectural and industrial paints. AQMD has studied the cumulative VOC emissions from architectural painting operations and has found that these emissions exceed the combined emissions from a variety of industrial operations. Emissions from the application of architectural and industrial maintenance coatings during the summer months, typically known as the peak painting and smog season, are estimated to be more than 38 tons each day.  VOCs from solvent and paint emissions contribute to harmful ozone formation.

WHAT ARE THE HARMFUL EFFECTS OF OZONE? 

Ozone:

  • Irritates eyes, nose, throat and lungs; 
  • Reduces breathing capacity even in healthy adults and children; 
  • Increases susceptibility to infection, hospital visits and admissions; 
  • Causes damage estimated to cost over millions of dollars per year to crops and buildings.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT PAINT

  • Choose the lowest VOC paint available for your use. 
  • Consult your paint professional for advice and assistance.

LOW- AND SUPER-COMPLIANT VOC (CLEAN AIR) PAINTS ARE CURRENTLY AVAILABLE

Low- and Super-Compliant VOC (Clean Air) paints are manufactured and sold by numerous companies.  "Low-VOC" refers to paints that meet the regulatory limits in the South Coast Rule (Rule 1113), however many manufacturers have reformulated to levels well below these limits.  These are referred to as "Super-Compliant".  Click on the following hyperlink for the list: Super-Compliant VOC coating manufacturers.

IF YOU CANíT USE SUPER-COMPLIANT VOC PAINT, AVOID PAINTING DURING PEAK SMOG SEASON

If for some reason you cannot use a Super-Compliant VOC paint, consider scheduling your painting project to avoid the peak smog season of July, August and September.  You can help reduce smog by scheduling your painting project during the months of October through June.

YOU CAN HELP CLEAN THE AIR

  • Use Super-Compliant VOC paints whenever possible. 
  • If you canít use Super-Compliant VOC paint, avoid painting during peak smog season: July, August, and September.
  • If you canít find Super-Compliant VOC paint, use any of the readily available Low-VOC paints designed to do the job.
  • Buy only the paint you need.
  • Recycle leftover paint.  Take any left over paint to a household hazardous waste center sponsored by your city or county.  Do not mix leftover water-based and oil-based paints. To locate a household hazardous waste center in your area call 1-800-CLEANUP or click on the following hyperlink: www.cleanup.org
  • Keep lids closed on all paint containers when not in use to prevent VOC emissions and excessive odors. 
  • For water-based paints, clean up with water only, but whenever possible, do not rinse the clean-up water down the drain or pour it directly into the ground or the storm drain.  Set aside the can of clean-up water and take it to a hazardous waste center (www.cleanup.org).
  • Recycle the empty paint can.
  • Look for non-solvent containing stripping products.
  • Use Compliant Low-VOC cleaning solvents to clean paint application equipment.  Click on the following hyperlink for a list of: Clean Air Solvents.
  • Keep all paint and solvent laden rags in sealed containers to prevent VOC emissions.

Remember, Super-Compliant  VOC paints: Julia Russell is the founder of ECO-HOME.

  • Minimize pollution;
  • Create no hazardous waste (if latex);
  • Clean up with water (if latex);
  • Have little odor.