What are VOC's and why do they matter

Volatile Organic Compounds, aka VOCs, are chemicals found in a range of materials, including paints, varnishes, cleaning products, carpets, vinyl and composite flooring, caulk, petroleum products, natural gas, upholstery, foam, and even air fresheners.

VOCs are pretty much everywhere, but levels are particularly high in new – or newly redecorated – buildings.

What do they do?
When it comes to paint, VOCs act as a medium and help transfer the paint from the container to the paint brush, and onto the surface. The evaporation of VOCs from wet paint is part of the process of drying.

Why are they problematic? 
When VOCs accumulate indoors, that can mean negative consequences to humans health and wellbeing.
If you’re exposed to too many over a prolonged period, the most common negative health effects are temporary eye, throat or lung irritation, headaches, dizziness, vision problems and even damage to the liver, kidneys, or central nervous system.
The negative health effects of VOCs vary widely because they depend on the type and concentration of VOCs in the air, the length of time a person is exposed to VOCs and a person's age and pre-existing medical conditions.

How can I avoid them?
In paint, VOCs are measured in grams per litres. The amount varies, depending on the sheen level of the paint. Very glossy paint usually contains more grams of VOCs per litre than very matte paint. Look for paints that have a very low level of VOC:

  • Matte paints are considered very low-VOC if they have 0-50 grams VOC pr. litre
  • Glossy paints are considered very low-VOC if they have 0-100 grams VOC pr. litre
At Blēo we only sell paint with a very low VOC level:
  • Our ULTRA MATTE and MATTE paint have 0-10 grams VOC pr. litre
  • And our GLOSS and HIGH GLOSS paint have 70 grams VOC pr. litre

Low-VOC materials release VOCs for several days after application. The amount decreases with time and ventilation.

We recommend that newly painted rooms are regularly ventilated by opening windows and doors for 2-4 days after painting, as ventilation is best way to remove VOCs from an indoor environment.