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Zero VOC Paint - The Only Choice for Asthmatics

Project Allergy tests Mythic Paint - a healthy alternative for those allergic to chemicals

January 23, 2010

By Janet Millan - Co-founder

When my son was diagnosed with asthma 9 years ago, we completely remodeled his bedroom as a safe-haven from allergies. We removed the curtains, replaced the carpet on the floor with wood, bought cotton sheets and blankets that could be washed in hot water, added a high quality Honeywell Hepa filter, and covered his pillows and mattresses to protect him from dust mites. We were certain we had thought of everything. We didn’t.

What we didn’t know just a few years ago is that his furniture was probably off-gassing chemicals into the room. We had purchased a new set for him, a solid wood bunk bed, a nightstand, desk and dresser, which looked fabulous. For some reason, though, he never got a good night’s sleep in the room. Instead, he preferred to sleep in the guest bedroom, which holds our 1880’s Eastlake Style bed and nightstand that has been in our family for many years. We never got it refinished; we just polished the wood and kept it clean. There is no box spring, per say, but a metal spring base and four sides that hold a mattress. It is shorter than most beds, but he preferred sleeping in this room, rather than his swank room, right out of a Pottery Barn catalogue, complete with a mural on the walls and ceilings.

A few years ago, paint companies started selling Low-VOC paint at the big box hardware stores. VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compounds. This made me wonder -was the mural in his room making him sick? Were the chemicals in his wood floor and furniture making his asthma worse? And, I wondered, if they offer low-VOC, is there such a thing as zero VOC? VOC can cause cancer and are very harmful to sensitive people. Have you ever painted a room and gotten a bad headache or dizzy from the fumes? Apparently, these fumes off-gas for up to 6 years, and studies show they are the cause of ozone thinning and global warming. Today, not only do you want to go “Green” for the environment, you want to go Green for the health of your family.

Last year, we decided that we needed a dresser for my son’s room. We looked at some medium priced furniture stores, but all of them had the imitation wood backing, known as particle board, which I knew would contain formaldehyde. According to the EPA website, “Formaldehyde, a colorless, pungent-smelling gas, can cause watery eyes, burning sensations in the eyes and throat, nausea, and difficulty in breathing in some humans exposed at elevated levels (above 0.1 parts per million). High concentrations may trigger attacks in people with asthma. There is evidence that some people can develop a sensitivity to formaldehyde. It has also been shown to cause cancer in animals and may cause cancer in humans. Health effects include eye, nose, and throat irritation; wheezing and coughing; fatigue; skin rash; severe allergic reactions. May cause cancer.” (http://www.epa.gov/iaq/formalde.html).

Given this information, we decided to look for a vintage solid wood dresser on Craigslist.org. To avoid caustic stripping chemicals, my older teenager and my 11 year old spent days sanding the paint from the dresser, which was painted black with white speckles, vintage ’80. We were all set to paint the dresser when I realized, it would defeat the purpose to paint the dresser if the paint or finish released chemicals.

We decided to look for a zero VOC paint that was child-friendly. Several companies that we spoke to had zero VOC paint, but only one was child friendly. Mythic Paint became our first and only choice. The company offers many colors online, www.mythicpaint.com, and you can find a store through their website. Skeptical as I was, I instantly became a huge fan. The paint has just a faint odor. It is richly thick and covers really well. It also cleans up easily, and children can help with the project. We chose a light blue, and almost a year later, it has held up to wear and tear of a child’s room. The website’s color palate is also very accurate to the product you purchase, if you buy online. Although we used this paint for a dresser, the paint is wonderful for your entire house. High quality zero VOC Mythic paint is $49.99 a gallon online. Not cheap, but if you think about it, your health is worth the extra few bucks and is certainly far cheaper than an asthma induced co-pay trip to the ER!