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Keeping it Green: The myths and truths of zero VOC paints by John Lanzillotti – Excerpts taken from American Painting Contractor April 2011 issue.

These days, being green has never been so colorful, thanks to many of the latest developments in zero-VOC paints. But, caveat emptor. There are a lot of myths and misunderstandings about zero-VOC paint. You might even say that, ironically, a volatile issue has erupted around the zero-volatile organic compounds in paint subject. And that issue centers upon the addition of colorant to paint — an addition that, in many cases, means the addition of VOCs. Disturbingly, the VOC content of colorant is a critical detail that doesn’t seem to get communicated, nor is it adequately regulated.

Aside from the confusion about colorants, what are some of the “myths and truths” about zero-VOC paint? Here are just a few:

Myth: Zero-VOC paint is difficult to use.
Fact: With the development of new zero-VOC formulations, paint performance has been improved. Several companies are reporting that, in mastering new technologies to produce zero-VOC paint, their scientists have discovered ways to incorporate added performance virtues such as better flow and hide.

Myth: “Green” products are almost always more expensive than their traditional “non-green” counterparts.
Fact: More often than not, for a given level of performance, there is till a slight premium to go green but not nearly as much as just a few years ago. As manufacturers and, more important, their raw material suppliers begin to use more of the newer low-and zero-VOC raw materials, the prices for these materials should continue to drop, eventually eliminating the cost premium associated with green alternatives to conventional coatings.

Myth: No matter what the reality, most consumers will not buy “green products, because they perceive them to less effective or more expensive.
Fact: As long as they perceive green products as requiring a trade-off in performance to be green, then many consumers will still shy away from them.

Myth: Too many people, claiming that their products are “green” have rendered the term virtually meaningless.
Fact: Regrettably, there is a lot of “green-washing” as manufacturers see the value and urgency of bringing greener products to market. Unlike those that have recently raced to keep pace, it’s the ones that are consistent leaders with a historic, long-standing track record in their manufacturing practices and in the development of products that are environmentally friendly with a minimal adverse impact on the planet that you can rely upon. So, look for a company that not only talks the talk, but walks the walk.

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