The Truth about Environmental Paint

by Sam Goldberg

It may not seem logical, but "environmental" paint is not necessarily healthy paint.

Green Paint

There are two types of "green" paint on the market today: low or "zero" Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) paint, and paint formulated with low or "no" toxic ingredients. Though the intention of the two paint types is to reduce any possible negative impact on the environment, the low or zero VOC paints invariably miss the environmentally friendly mark. These VOC (gases emitted from certain solids or liquids) paints are formulated to reduce or eliminate further smog formation or outdoor air pollution.

Zero VOC

Unfortunately, most don't realize how "people-unfriendly" these types of paint are. Zero VOC paints generally harm indoor air quality because they can still include compounds, such as exempt solvents, fragrances, or odor-masking chemicals, which offgas excessive levels of biocides and unreacted monomers, which create indoor irritants. For those with chemical sensitivities, offgassing and indoor irritants are of particular concern.

Harmful Emissions

It might be helpful to learn that even "cured" zero VOC films (the coat of paint after it dries) can continue to generate emissions, which can also affect health. The use of fragrances or masking agents to create "low odor" only constitutes a formulation cover-up, at best confusing the user and potentially exposing them to more toxic chemistry. Masking agents hide offending ingredients, plain and simple.

Recent government reports suggest that 30% of the U.S. population suffers from some sort of allergy, sensitivity, or environmental illness. There are very real physical symptoms associated with these ailments. With 70 million Americans dealing with these health challenges and a larger number looking to safeguard their health and well-being, using ordinary zero VOC paint is not the best choice.

AFM Safecoat has worked with chemically sensitive individuals for over 20 years and has learned that many have been misled into buying a standard zero VOC paint, only to find that they experience negative health reactions for weeks, often months, after it is on their walls. Thus, AFM Safecoat formulates its paints with low or "no" toxic ingredients and is designed to reduce indoor air pollution.


This second type of "green" paint can be characterized as environment-friendly, meaning it is healthier for indoor occupants. It is manufactured without the use of any regulated or unregulated health hazards or toxins and is designed to limit chemical offgassing. This paint goes well beyond the requirements for certification and is typically well-tolerated by nearly 98% of the most chemically sensitive individuals who use them.


After construction at Sapporo Asahigaoka High School in Japan, several students reported symptoms of nausea, dizziness, and headaches. Even though school officials had specified so-called "environmental" building products, chemical offgassing in the classrooms was making students sick.

So they tested every zero VOC paint on the market, including Safecoat. The results showed that the affected pupils reacted to all of these products except Safecoat, which was then used to repaint the school. The offgassing stopped, the school reopened, and Safecoat became the paint of choice for Sapporo prefecture schools.

Since the early 1980s, AFM has worked with environmental medicine physicians. The company goal has been to make products safe enough even for the chemically sensitive, like the student whose mother said, "The school has decided to use Safecoat and for that I'm grateful. My son has been attending classes without the fear of reacting to chemicals and is enjoying school again."

Reducing smog is an admiral goal, but so is eliminating toxicity. AFM Safecoat is the paint to meet this standard.