November 14, 2019
4 common products that reduce VOCs
As a contractor, you know that your clients are concerned about the detrimental health effects of exposure to Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). They affect the quality of indoor or outdoor air and can cause symptoms such as breathing problems, headaches and in some cases, they've been linked to increased cancer rates. VOCs include toluene, xylenes, benzene, ethylbenzene, formaldehyde and more. Although the cancer risk for formaldehyde in homes is negligible, it can cause irritation if levels exceed Health Canada's Residential Indoor Air Quality for formaldehyde. Homeowners are becoming more aware of what it means to live in a healthy home and are willing to pay more for one that doesn't make them sick.
How can you stay safe from VOCs during installations and provide your clients with healthier homes? Here are four products that are popular for lowering exposure to VOCs and are less risk to human health:
- Paint - Shop around, and you'll see labels indicating “Low-VOC” and “zero-VOC” paints, meaning they contain lower grams of VOC per litre (under 150 grams for low-VOC and under 5 for zero-VOC). Most paint brands now provide these kinds of alternatives. Sherwin-Williams offers HARMONY paint, which has a zero VOC formula and Formaldehyde Reducing Technology helps improve indoor air quality by reducing VOC's from possible sources like insulation, cabinets, carpet and fabrics. Find out more here.
- Walls - Some manufacturers offer reduced VOCs in insulation. For example, Johns Mansville offers ComfortTherm® Formaldehyde-free™ fibreglass insulation and is also wrapped in plastic to reduce itch and dust during installation.
- Vinyl siding – When you use fibre cement, you need to wear a mask because breathing in silica dust can cause silicosis, an incurable lung disease. Kaycan is one manufacturer that offers vinyl siding that you don't need to wear respirators or masks to install because there is no silica dust. Vinyl is affordable. It's a value-based product that looks excellent for many years to come.
- Adhesives – You can find a range of low VOC products in caulking and adhesives. Look for products that are Greenguard Gold certified, have a low-VOC concentration of no more than 50 grams per litre for interior applications, and are water-based latex caulks and sealants as they're the least toxic. 3M has a few different product lines that are Greenguard Certified. 3M carries Low VOC Aerosol Adhesives with significantly lower VOCs than their industrial standards.
By looking for and buying low or no VOC products, you are not only helping your clients live in healthier environments, but you are also protecting your health.