Indoor Air Quality Concerns with Indoor Paints

IAQ concerns

As many benefits interior painting has, there are IAQ (indoor air quality) concerns that come with it. Even with low- to no-VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in the paint, it may have chemicals inside it that can be irritating and potentially harmful.

VOCs in Paint

Paint manufacturers have found alternative ways to make paint without using materials that have VOCs. However, researchers are finding that the way the U.S. EPA tests for VOCs in paint may not identify all the hazardous fumes.

The EPA uses “Method 24” to test paint for VOCs. Essentially, they weigh the paint as a liquid and then its weight after heating. They attribute some of the difference to VOC losses. A subsequent test using different methodology has shown that there are VOC emissions even in paint that the EPA has previously identified as no-VOC.

Dealing with VOCs

VOCs prompt IAQ concerns because they are known to cause health problems ranging from minor to serious. Products with VOCs are common and found in anything made with a hydrocarbon.

Eliminating them from your home is the best way to avoid exposure. The next best choice is to use low-VOC paint and other products during times when it’s possible to have the windows open for abundant fresh air.

Scientists have found that a freshly painted room has up to 1,000 times more VOCs than the typical home. As the paint dries, the VOC load drops, but even six months afterward, the paint is still emitting VOCs.


Besides avoidance, adequate ventilation and no-VOC paints, you can maintain a higher IAQ by using an energy recovery ventilator (ERV). These devices provide energy efficient fresh-air ventilation year-round, which helps your indoor IAQ stay high.

They pull out stale, polluted air as they pull in fresh air. They use an internal heat exchanger to extract the energy from the outgoing air and put it into the incoming air, which lowers cooling costs.

If you have painting projects and other IAQ concerns about your home, contact the pros at CCAC, providing trusted HVAC and IAQ products for Coastal Bend homeowners.  

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