World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Environmental impact of paint

Article Id: WHEBN0023035042
Reproduction Date:

Title: Environmental impact of paint  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Environmental issues, Mitigation banking, Environmental impact of biodiesel, Environmental impact of transport, Environmental impact of the oil shale industry
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Environmental impact of paint

An assortment of paints.

The environmental impact of paint is diverse. Traditional painting materials and processes can have harmful effects on the environment, including those from the use of lead and other additives. Measures can be taken to reduce environmental impact, including accurately estimating paint quantities so waste is minimized, and use of environmentally preferred paints, coatings, painting accessories, and techniques.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency guidelines and Green Star standards can be applied.


Low-VOC and other environmentally preferred paints

Volatile organic compounds are gases emitted by various solids or liquids, many of which have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Solvents in traditional paints often contain high quantities of VOCs. Low VOC paints improve indoor air quality and reduce urban smog. The beneficial characteristics of such paints include low odor, clean air, and safer technology, as well as excellent durability and a washable finish.

Low-VOC paint types include latex (water-based), recycled latex (water-based), acrylic, and milk paint.[1]

The labels of paint cans can be checked for the following information:

  • To be considered low-VOC, the paint should contain <50 g/l of VOC.
  • To be considered zero-VOC, the paint should contain <5 g/l of VOC.
  • Solid content usually ranges from 25-45%, higher solid percentages indicate less VOCs.[2]

In the US, items containing toxic ingredients have registration numbers with either the:

  1. US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  2. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
  3. United States Department of Transportation (DOT)

Antifouling paint

Antifouling paint (or bottom paint) is used to protect the hulls of boats from [4]

Tributyltin is harmful to some marine organisms, including the dog whelk, it causes dog whelks to suffer from imposex; females develop male sexual characteristics such as a penis.[5] This causes them to become infertile or even die. In severe cases, males can develop egg sacs.

Alternatives include biomimetic antifouling coatings.

Heavy metals

Heavy metals are used in paints and have raised concerns due to their toxicity at high levels of exposure and since they build up in the food chain.


Lead paint contains lead as pigment. Lead is also added to paint to speed drying, increase durability, retain a fresh appearance, and resist moisture that causes corrosion. Paint with significant lead content is still used in industry and by the military. For example, leaded paint is sometimes used to paint roadways and parking lot lines. Lead, a poisonous metal, can damage nerve connections (especially in young children) and cause blood and brain disorders. Because of lead's low reactivity and solubility, lead poisoning usually only occurs in cases when it is dispersed, such as when sanding lead-based paint prior to repainting.


Primer paint containing hexavalent chromium is still widely used for aerospace and automobile refinishing applications. Zinc chromate has been used as a pigment for artists' paint, known as zinc yellow or yellow 36. It is highly toxic and now rarely used.


As a response to the environmental and health concerns, some paint manufacturers now offer environmentally friendly alternatives. Also, in some countries, paint recycling is carried out on surplus paints and resold.

Products like ECOBOND LBP are available to treat lead. Ecobond can chemically change lead to make it less leechable and, therefore, easier on the environment.

See also


  1. ^ Seattle Public Utilities Sustainable Building Program Pages:4
  2. ^ [Loux, Renee(2008), Easy Green Living The ultimate guide to simple, ecofriendly choices for you and your home. Pages:311]
  3. ^ Secretariat for the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade (26 November 2006). "Draft Decision Guidance Document for Tributyltin Compounds". United Nations Environment Programme. Retrieved 2008-10-06. 
  4. ^ Staff (2008-12-03). "Persistent Pollutant May Promote Obesity". Science daily. Retrieved 2008-12-03. 
  5. ^ Dan Minchin, Eberhard Stroben, Jörg Oehlmann, Barbara Bauer, Colm B. Duggan and Michael Keatinge (1996). "Biological indicators used to map organotin contamination in Cork Harbour, Ireland". Marine Pollution Bulletin 32 (2): 188.  

External links

  • Green Painters Australia Assoc
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.