Building Materials Watch List: Paint Containing VOC’s Can Cause Cancer

  • Most commercial paints on the market contain toxic chemicals that are harmful to humans and the environment.
  • We refer to these chemicals as Volatile Organic Compounds or VOC’s which must be avoided at all costs.
  • Paint containing VOC’s can cause cancer.

We are running a series of articles intended to inform and educate the general public, building tenants, contractors, and property developers on building materials that contain chemicals that pollute the environment and are harmful to humans. This includes those involved in the manufacturing of such materials. First up is paint that contains highly toxic Volatile Organic Compounds or VOC’s as they are commonly known.

Paint containing VOC’s cause much harm to indoor and outdoor air quality. During the painting process, VOCs evaporate into the air. The evaporation continues over the long drying process and beyond. In extreme cases, it can cause photochemical smog or haze in the atmosphere which contains high levels of ozone and nitrogen oxides. The phenomenon is caused by the action of sunlight on the VOC’s.

The health effects of those coming into contact with VOC’s can vary widely from respiratory irritants to human carcinogens – a substance capable of causing cancer in living tissue. Immediate health effects or symptoms are coughing, breathing problems, skin irritation, burning eyes, watering eyes, headaches, dizziness and loss of concentration. Use of breathing or dermal protection is strongly advised when applying paint or adhesives containing VOC’s or better still, stand your ground and refuse exposure altogether.

While research and development is being conducted by paint manufacturers to create non-toxic paint that has the same adhesive, waterproof and surface finish qualities that VOC paints have, market supply is still dominated by toxic VOC paint.

Some paint manufacturers offer low or no VOC paints like DEKRO with their Enviro Range which has been specifically formulated to contain zero* levels of any harmful substances including VOC’s, APEO, MEG, Formaldehyde, Ammonia, and Solvents.

In order to drive the building sector away from VOC paints, it is important for the general public and building industry stakeholders to demand or specifying paints that contain NO VOC’s!

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

Leave A Reply

About Author

Green Building Africa promotes the need for net carbon zero buildings and cities in Africa. We are fiercely independent and encourage outlying thinkers to contribute to the #netcarbonzero movement. Climate change is upon us and now is the time to react in a more diverse and broader approach to sustainability in the built environment. We challenge architects, property developers, urban planners, renewable energy professionals and green building specialists. We also challenge the funding houses and regulators and the role they play in facilitating investment into green projects. Lastly, we explore and investigate new technology and real-time data to speed up the journey in realising a net carbon zero environment for our children.

Copyright Green Building Africa 2024.