No matter where in the world you live, many of us like to pick up a paint brush and splash some colour onto our walls to make a place our home. But did you ever think about the environmental effects of painting?
Paint can contain a number of components that may include pigments, a resin or binder, a solvent and a dryer. I won’t get technical and explain what each of these means for paint application, but what it does mean is that lead, chromium, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) among other chemicals can be found in certain types of paint.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated that paint can emit 1000 times more VOCs than found naturally in the environment. VOCs can react with oxygen and form bad ozone gas that leads to the greenhouse gas effects. This also means that indoor VOC pollution while painting is extremely high and can have adverse effects on human health. For inexperienced painters, that’s why you wear a mask and keep the windows open while painting. These VOCs are still emitted long after you’ve finished painting which is why government legislation has limited VOC content for paints.
Paint can also be extremely toxic to the environment if it is leaked into storm water systems and exposed to plants and marine life. Heavy metals such as lead can cause groundwater and land contamination which pose both environmental and health risks. This exposure means that lead may find its way into our food chain. It is for this reason that paint must be treated correctly before disposal.
Monash council in Victoria, Australia is the first council to nationally take up an initiative that will prevent millions of litres of paint from polluting landfills or being illegally dumped. The scheme involves a levy of 15 cents a litre on the wholesale price of paint brands which means that anyone is able to drop off their unused paint at the Monash Transfer Station.
It is great always great to see local, state and federal governments taking part in ensuring a cleaner and brighter future.
Check out this interesting website if you want to learn more about paint and its environmental impacts. There are also some handy tips on how you recognise paints that have minimal environmental impacts.