Definition: Low toxic and low-VOC paints are water-based with few indoor air-quality impacts compared to solvent-based paints. For most applications there is little or no difference in performance.

Definition: Low toxic and low-VOC paints are water-based with few indoor air-quality impacts compared to solvent-based paints. For most applications there is little or no difference in performance.

Low or non-biocide paints avoid the fungicides and mildewcides that are typically added to latex paint to extend shelf life. These additives are considered harmful to indoor air quality.

Application: Low or non-VOC and low- or no-biocide paints can be used wherever regular paints can be used.

Benefits: This product does not contribute significantly to indoor air contamination.

Challenges: Low-VOC paints can cost more than most conventional paints, but the cost differential is declining as sales volume increases. Low- or non-biocide paints are more expensive. The storage life of the paint is shortened for low- or non-biocide paints. Evidence suggests that mold growth can occur in paint that does not have a mildewcide. This is not a concern unless a long shelf life is needed. And then, only very low levels of biocides are needed.

Standard Specs: VOC content should be less than 100 g/l. Biocide content should be low to very low. Levels as low as 0.01 to 0.025 percent can be effective in preventing spoilage.

Information provided by Earth Advantage, an Oregon-based nonprofit organization that specializes in green building. Info: www.earthadvantage.com