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Breathe Easy

I have a friend with multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), a horrible condition that entails her sucking on an oxygen tank daily and getting intravenous vitamin drips twice a week – just for living in the modern age. To make matters worse, her antiquated Southampton Village bungalow has been besieged with mold, so she’s looking to buy a new house. This is not an easy task. Her new house can’t be less than two years old or have been recently renovated or painted.

Conventional paints contain a multitude of harmful chemicals including carcinogens, neurotoxicants and other unpronounceable volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Even when that “new paint smell” is gone, paint can continue to off-gas for three to five years. So even those of us without a sensitivity that will land us in the hospital should consider slathering a nontoxic paint on our walls. Luckily there are several to choose from on the market these days.

ECOS Paints are VOC-free, harmful solvent-free, and glycol-free. Most remarkable are their Air Pure Paints, which work to remove contaminants from your home’s atmosphere! The truly revolutionary technology – a crystalline sieve – is sized to trap such culprits as formaldehyde, acetone, glycol and benzene from the air. The company also makes nontoxic stains and no-VOC varnishes.
Auro USA prides itself on using 99 percent natural raw materials produced sustainably. Instead of petrochemicals they use organic linseed oil.

Anna Sova Food Paint is made with… drum roll please… food. And according to a press release, smells like a “vanilla milkshake.” Its recipe, which is 94 percent food-based, includes such ingredients as milk casein, bamboo cellulose (think fiber bars) and food emulsifiers. Its palette book contains more than 500 colors such as Wild Currant, Toasted Praline, and Lychee Fruit.

BioShield makes clay paints that come in soft colors that capture the nuanced ambience of real clay plasters and lime stucco.

Harmony Paint from Sherwin-Williams, which contains sustainable raw materials, like soy and sunflower oils, was first introduced as a zero VOC interior coating with antimicrobial agents to resist the growth of mold. Its formula was then enhanced with “Odor Eliminating Technology,” to reduce household odors from smoke to garlic. Since then it has been updated with “Formaldehyde Reducing Technology,” to lessen emissions from building materials such as insulation and carpet.

Green Planet Paints, based on plant resins and mineral pigments produced with leading-edge plant chemistry, contains 40 percent bio content. The company was founded by a materials scientist whose knowledge of Mayan pigment technology helped her develop a rich palette of colors inspired by Arizona’s high-dessert canyon walls, waterfall mosses, and migrating birds.

Natura Waterborne Interior Paint is Benjamin Moore’s environmentally friendly paint. Claiming that it contains “zero VOC and zero emissions,” the company says it also has “no harsh fumes… all without compromise to performance or color selection.”

Timber Ox Green is a line of agriculturally based and environmentally friendly wood stains and sealers. Their products are recognized by the USDA as bio-based, bio-preferred products and are listed in the agency’s bio-preferred catalog.

Developed by an antique restoration business, paints made by The Real Milk Paint Co. can be used on antique furniture, decks, and floors as well as interior walls. Made from all organic materials including purified casein and lime, they can be mixed with the pigment powder of your choice to achieve a velvety matte surface. The company also offers earth friendly paint remover and crackle.