SOURCE: GREENGUARD Environmental Institute

August 13, 2008 15:37 ET

Breath of Fresh Color

GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI) Educates Consumers on Paint Emissions vs. Content

ATLANTA, GA--(Marketwire - August 13, 2008) - As designers and consumers become more involved in the eco-friendly movement and wish to purchase products that protect the health and well-being of their families and building occupants, one product they focus on is paint. To assist in the purchase decisions, the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI) wants to educate consumers on the difference between volatile organic compound (VOC) content and VOC emissions.

VOC content is the amount (by weight) of VOCs that are in the formulation of paint, while VOC emissions are the amount of VOCs released into the air following the application of paint. The difference between the two is important because VOC content does not determine what is released into the air of buildings with painted surfaces. VOC content has traditionally been used to meet outdoor air regulations that limit the release of certain VOCs contributing to outdoor smog formation. This approach served as a surrogate for estimating indoor emissions for many years. However, data shows that even paint with "low or zero" VOC content may still emit levels of VOCs found to be irritating and unacceptable to people indoors. Technologies are now available for measuring low level paint emissions and predicting their impact on the indoor air that building occupants breathe.

"When products releasing high levels of VOCs are applied indoors, VOC emissions can adsorb into porous construction materials and furnishings causing the emissions to linger even longer," said Dr. Marilyn Black, founder of GEI. "The selection of low emitting paints versus low VOC content paints will minimize this impact and result in a higher quality of acceptable indoor air for building occupants and homeowners."

Some health effects associated with exposure to high levels of specific VOCs include acute responses such as allergies and asthma attacks, respiratory irritation and headaches, while long term exposure may lead to more serious health concerns.

Manufacturers are now qualifying their paints and coatings for low indoor chemical emissions. Products that have been tested and shown to meet GREENGUARD's stringent indoor air quality requirements are readily available for retail and commercial use. Look for the GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certified® mark on products. Those products with the coveted GREENGUARD Children and Schools(SM) mark meet the more stringent health-based requirements for healthcare and educational environments including California's 1350 Program and Collaborative High Performance School (CHPS) programs. All products can be found in GREENGUARD's free on-line guide at

About GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI)

Founded in 2001, GEI is an industry independent, non-profit organization that oversees the GREENGUARD Certification Program(SM). The Institute's mission is to protect human health and quality of life through programs that improve indoor air that people breathe. As an ANSI Accredited Standards Developer, GEI establishes acceptable indoor air standards for building materials, interior products, electronic equipment, indoor environments and building designs. The more than 170,000 GREENGUARD certified products must meet stringent, third party standards for low chemical emissions based on established health criteria and undergo rigorous testing and verification processes on a regular basis. GREENGUARD certification is broadly recognized and accepted by a number of "green" programs, including the United States Green Building Council's (USGBC) LEED® program. An online guide of GREENGUARD certified products is available at no charge at

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Mandi Joyner
    Communications Manager
    GREENGUARD Environmental Institute
    Email Contact