Studies have found that the cumulative VOC emissions from architectural painting operations exceed the combined emissions from a variety of industrial operations. VOCs from solvent and paint emissions contribute to harmful ozone formation and peroxyacetyl nitrate.
According to the Masters Painters Association, ozone from paint emissions irritates eyes, nose, throat and lungs; reduces breathing capacity even in healthy adults and children; increases susceptibility to infection, hospital visits and admissions; and causes damage estimated to cost over millions of dollars per year to crops and buildings.
Another problem with synthetic paints is post-application wastage and disposal. The petrochemical paints that currently dominate the market are predominately derived from oil, a non-renewable resource.
Waste needs to be specially treated to avoid adverse environmental impacts. It has been estimated that water-soluble gloss paints require dilution of 40m to 1 to render their entry to the sewerage system harmless.
Many of the larger paint companies have produced products which have been certified to be 'environmentally friendly', but are still synthetic paints made from petrochemicals, with lower VOC concentrations. However, these products are still a step in the right direction, and should be considered by specifiers and consumers who wish to use acrylic paints, Wurm said.
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