From Realtà Mapei International n° 69 - 7/23/2018

Paints & varnishes - Dispelling the myths

Paints and varnishes, just like many other chemical products in general, are often the subject of alarmist messages. But is it correct to think this way? 

Paints and varnishes, just like many other chemical products in general, are often the subject of alarmist messages claiming they are the cause of environmental pollution and illnesses, leading us to fear for our own health and safety and of those living alongside us.

But is it correct to think this way? The chemical industry is one of the most tightly regulated sectors, especially in Europe. The roots of the preconception about chemicals go back a long way and refer to production methods and conditions that have now been completely surpassed.

As far as environmental, social and economic sustainability are concerned, the chemical industry is a virtuous sector and its products are tightly controlled and safe. And paints and varnishes are certainly no exception!

With this article, published with the kind permission of AVISA (the Italian Association representing manufacturers of adhesives and sealants, printing and silk-screen inks, paints and varnishes) and prepared in collaboration with experts from the Paints and Varnishes Department of SSOG1 – Stazioni Sperimentali per l’industria (Experimental Stations for industry), we would like to help dispel some of the most common myths and provide more correct information.

It is so easy to be influenced by all the alarmist messages we seem to be bombarded with every day about the things we use on a routine basis. But be careful about the credibility of all this news; all too often it is not based on scientific evidence.

European legislation, similarly to legislation in all heavily industrialised nations, tightly regulates all products put on the market so that they are as safe as possible for mankind and the environment. And by the same token, chemical companies are committed on a daily basis to the development of increasingly sustainable products.

To find out more about paints and varnishes and their production processes go to the website: http://avisa.federchimica.it/en/home.




PAINTS FOR THE WALLS OF OUR HOMES ARE CARCINOGENIC

There really is absolutely no cause for alarm! In fact, European legislation (EC Regulation No. 1907/2006 – “REACH”) prohibits the production and sale of carcinogenic chemical products for public use. All paints and varnishes applied in our homes, therefore, can in no way be carcinogenic.

For further information: https://chemicalsinourlife.echa.europa.eu/how-are-chemicals-controlled

 

 

PAINTS AND VARNISHES CAN MAKE US ILL

The Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) released also, but not only, from paints and varnishes applied in our homes account for only 1.3% of the potentially harmful agents found in the air. In fact, the types of pathology connected to the quality of the air we breathe in buildings are mainly due to exposure to fine dust particles, carbon monoxide and damp present.

Source: “Promoting Actions for Healthy Indoor Air (IAIAQ)” – DG Health & Consumer, European Commission, 2011 (page 10).

 



PAINTS 
AND VARNISHES ARE JUST AS HARMFUL AS CIGARETTES

Unlike cigarettes, paints and varnishes for public use are not carcinogenic for users (EC Regulation No. 1907/2006 – “REACH”). Paints and varnishes do release certain chemical substances (e.g. VOC), but only for a very limited period of time compared with their overall duration.

For further information: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3084482/

 



"NATURAL” PAINTS AND VARNISHES ARE SAFER THAN THEIR TRADITIONAL EQUIVALENTS

Raw materials used in the manufacture of traditional paints and varnishes guarantee the same level of safety as those formulated with non-industrial products.

Raw materials used to manufacture traditional paints and varnishes are from a controlled origin and have a constant level of quality.

For further information: http://www.iso.org/ics/87.040/x/

 



PAINTS AIMED AT THE DIY SECTOR ARE FULL OF HEAVY METALS

Paints available on the open market may contain a maximum of 1% of heavy metals (mercury, lead, silver, etc.), limits imposed by REACH Regulations through specific “restrictions”.

For further information: https://echa.europa.eu/substances-restricted-under-reach


 


THE AIR WE BREATHE IS HEAVILY POLLUTED BY PAINTS AND VARNISHES

European Union legislation (Directive 2004/42/UE, which in Italy has been transformed into Decree 161/2006) sets maximum limits for volatile substances to minimise the environmental impact of products aimed at the decorative and car refinish sector.

For further information:

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/archives/air/stationary/solvents/legislation.htm

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