Quiz: How low can your VOCs go?

By: Staff

4 Min Quiz

Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

The most important environmental- and health-related issue facing us when embarking on a house-painting project is the concentration of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the materials. Take this quiz to learn more about low-VOC paints!

True or False: Zero-VOC paints are nontoxic.

Even zero-VOC coatings can still contain toxic ingredients that aren't prohibited by government regulations.

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Which of these toxic ingredients are paint companies required to list?

While it's a serious toxin, acetone is not a VOC, so companies aren't yet required to list it (despite the flu symptoms it can cause). However, they are required to list formaldehyde.

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Which of these is NOT an effect of VOC off-gassing?

VOC off-gassing can cause nausea, dizziness, eye irritation, respiratory problems and heart, lung or kidney damage. It can even lead to cancer.

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Of the 176 million pounds of VOC emissions generated in California, about how much comes from paint?

More than two-thirds of the 176 million pounds of VOC emissions generated in California come from paints and coatings, according to the California Air Resources Board.

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VOCs are used as a solvent in oil-based paint to keep the other ingredients dissolved. How much of the paint's ingredients do VOCs usually make up?

In a typical oil-based paint, the VOCs in its solvent make up 40 to 60 percent of the total volume.

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Water-based paints use water as the main solvent, but they still contain about what percentage of VOCs?

Water-based paints, while safer, still generally contain about 5 to 10 percent VOCs.

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So-called zero-VOC paints are still allowed to contain what amount of VOCs per liter?

According to the EPA, a paint must contain 5 grams per liter or less of VOCs to earn the label of "zero-VOC."

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How many grams of VOCs are low-VOC paints allowed to contain per liter?

According to the EPA, a paint must contain 200 grams per liter or less of VOCs to qualify as low-VOC.

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For a varnish to be considered low-VOC, how many grams of VOCs can it contain per liter?

According to the EPA, varnishes must contain 300 grams per liter or less of VOCs to qualify as low-VOC.

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If a paint earns the "Green Seal," how many grams of VOCs does it contain per liter?

The "Green Seal" means that a flat-sheen paint contains less than 50 grams per liter, while non-flat paints can go as high as 150 grams per liter.

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