Choosing Safer Paints: Tips for Allergy and Asthma Sufferers

Choosing Safer Paints: Tips for Allergy and Asthma Sufferers

Aug 22, 2023Richard Weager

Navigating our environments can be tricky, especially for individuals with allergies or asthma. A commonly overlooked factor that significantly affects our well-being, particularly indoors, is the type of paint used within our living or working spaces.

We will explore the importance of using safer paints, such as allergy-friendly and asthma-friendly paints, and the benefits they can bring to your home. By making informed decisions and choosing virtually zero VOC natural paint, you can protect your respiratory health while improving your living spaces.

Understanding VOCs and Their Impact on Allergies and Asthma

If you or a loved one suffers from allergies or asthma, it’s essential to understand the impact of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) on respiratory health.

What Are VOCs?

Volatile organic compounds are a group of chemicals that quickly evaporate at room temperature. You can find them in many common household products, including paints, adhesives, and cleaning supplies.

VOCs can contribute to a host of health problems, such as headaches, dizziness, and, in severe cases, damage to the kidneys, liver, or central nervous system. For allergy and asthma sufferers, VOCs can significantly aggravate their conditions, leading to increased frequency and severity of symptoms.

VOC-Free and Low-VOC Paints

To combat the health concerns associated with VOCs, many paint manufacturers have shifted towards creating safer alternatives. Low-VOC paints contain fewer volatile organic compounds than traditional paints, which reduces their potential harmful impact.

VOC-free paints, on the other hand, eliminate these hazardous compounds altogether, while natural paints usually contain water, plant oils, resins, and natural minerals, making them an excellent eco-friendly alternative.

Paint Ingredients to Avoid

Beyond VOCs, there are other ingredients found in paints that can cause allergic reactions or asthma flare-ups. Common culprits include formaldehyde, a component in some paint resins, and benzene and toluene, substances contained in some solvent-based paints.

Ammonia, another common ingredient, can also cause respiratory irritation. Heavy metals like lead and mercury are particularly hazardous and are associated with various severe health issues.

Benefits of Using VOC-Free Paints

Below are some of the key benefits of using non-toxic, natural, and hypoallergenic paints:

Benefits Explanation
Low or no odour VOC-free paints have little to no smell, making them an ideal choice for those sensitive to strong paint fumes.
Non-toxic Unlike traditional paints that contain harmful chemicals and toxins, VOC-free paints are non-toxic and pose no health risks to those living in the home.
Improved indoor air quality Choosing VOC-free paints can help improve indoor air quality and promote a healthier living environment.
Hypoallergenic VOC-free paints are often hypoallergenic, which means they are less likely to cause allergic reactions in those with sensitivities to certain chemicals.
Eco-friendly Many VOC-free paints are made with natural ingredients such as clay, minerals, and plant-based oils, making them a more sustainable and eco-friendly choice.

Choosing the Right Paint Safety Certifications

Choosing the right paint safety certification is paramount to ensuring that your paint is truly safe, particularly for allergy and asthma sufferers. Several organisations provide certifications that scrutinise a range of factors, from the environmental impact of the paint to the specific content of VOCs and other potential allergens.

Here are some of the most reputable paint safety certifications to look for:

  • ECOLOGO: Owned by UL Environment, this certification guarantees that the product meets a range of stringent environmental performance standards, including low VOC content.
  • EU Ecolabel: This label indicates that products or services meet high environmental standards throughout their lifecycle: from raw material extraction to production, distribution, and disposal.
  • Allergy UK Seal of Approval: This seal shows that a product proves to have no harmful effects on people with allergies or sensitivities after stringent testing.
  • Cradle to Cradle: This certification evaluates the paint’s impact on both human health and the environment throughout its entire lifecycle.

Tips for Choosing Allergy and Asthma-Friendly Paints

While the ‘VOC-free’ or ‘low-VOC’ labels are a good starting point, selecting the right paint involves a few more considerations:

  1. Manufacturer’s reputation: Not all paints are created equal, and not all manufacturers have the same dedication to quality and safety. Seek out brands that have a solid reputation for providing safer paints.
  2. Detailed ingredient list: Full transparency regarding paint ingredients is crucial. Some manufacturers may claim their paints are safe while excluding potentially harmful ingredients from their labels. Always opt for brands that fully disclose their paint components.
  3. Choose natural paints: Paints made from ingredients like clay, beeswax, and plant oils can be a safer option for allergy and asthma sufferers. Look for paints labelled ‘non-toxic’ or ‘hypoallergenic’ for added peace of mind.
  4. Consider suitable finishes and colours: Certain paint finishes, such as high-gloss and semi-gloss, can emit more VOCs than others. Regarding colours, lighter shades may be a better choice as they tend to contain fewer pigments and preservatives.

How to Reduce Exposure to Paint Chemicals

Reducing exposure to paint chemicals is essential for allergy and asthma sufferers. Here are some practical tips:

  • Paint in well-ventilated areas and open windows and doors to allow fresh air to circulate.
  • Wear protective gear, such as gloves and masks, to prevent contact with paint and fumes.
  • Take breaks and go outside for fresh air during painting projects.
  • Do not occupy newly painted spaces until the paint has had sufficient time to cure and off-gas – usually about 72 hours.
  • Consider using an air purifier with a HEPA filter to help remove paint fumes and other indoor air pollutants.

Additional Considerations for Allergy and Asthma Sufferers

While the choice of paint significantly impacts indoor air quality, here are some additional considerations to keep in mind:

Evaluating Paint Varieties for Potential Allergic Reactions

Prior to settling on a particular type or brand of paint, it’s crucial to assess the possibility of allergic reactions. Use a small quantity of the paint in a well-ventilated area, then observe for any subsequent symptoms for a minimum of 24 hours. This could include reactions such as coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, or other signs of irritation.

Consult With Healthcare Professionals

If you have severe allergies or asthma, it may be helpful to consult with a healthcare professional for personalised advice on choosing the right paint. They can provide recommendations based on your specific condition and any medications you may be taking.

Consider Mould Resistance and Durability

In addition to choosing a paint that is hypoallergenic and low in VOCs, it may be beneficial to look for durable and mould-resistant paints. These can help prevent the growth of mould and mildew, which can trigger allergy and asthma symptoms, and also ensure that the paint lasts longer without peeling or fading.


For individuals with allergies or asthma, the paint you choose can vastly impact your quality of life. By understanding VOCs, being aware of potentially harmful ingredients, and making informed choices about the paints used in your home, you can create a healthier and more comfortable environment for yourself and your loved ones.

At Greenshop Paints, we highly recommend AURO’s range of paints for allergy and asthma sufferers. Our products are eco-friendly, all-natural, and entirely VOC-free.

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