Has anyone used Kelly Moore's zero voc paint products and had reactions to them?


Has anyone used Kelly Moore's zero voc paint products and had reactions to them?

Asked by Susan

I used Kelly Moore zero voc paint in my empty condo and 8 days later, after having fans running 24/7 with all windows/patio door open, I cannot be in there for 5 minutes without a severe reaction with headaches, nausea, brainfog. I can't find out what is in the paint that may be causing this. Have you tested Kelly Moore's zero voc paint and/or do other people have problems with their products?

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Joel Hirshberg's picture

Dear Susan,

While I have not used Kelly Moore's zero VOC paint, we receive countless phone callsjust like yours from people using almost all brands of zero voc paint. "How can this be,they ask? I thought zero VOC meant it was safe and non-toxic?"

There are two possible answers.

Zero VOC does NOT mean it is safe

Zero VOC simply means there are no volatile organiccompounds.While that is good for your health, there may be plenty of nasty ingredientsthat are not classified as VOCs in the paint or the pigment.

Two well-known examplesare acetone and ammonia and many of their derivatives which are used as solvents inpaint.If you look up the MSDS on these chemicals you will see they are not consideredVOCs. Why? Because they don't cause outdoor air pollution or smog.

  • VOC laws were put into effect primarily to reduce the amount of chemicals inthe atmosphere that promote smog. This law was intended mainly for large scalemanufacturers of chemical pollutants.
  • The EPA seems to be concerned mostly withthe effects of chemicals that affect the environment in an overall way and not the smalleffects experienced inside of a home, although everything adds up.

There are plenty of other chemicals used in paint to mask odors, inhibit mold and
mildew growth, extend shelf life, provide good adhesion, improve smooth flow on
the wall, improve bonding with certain surfaces, etc., etc. The problem is that manyof these chemicals are totally unknown for their affects on humans.

  • Only 20% of thechemicals have been fully tested.
  • The others have not been tested and many have beengrandfathered into the system when the TCSA (Toxic Control Substance Act) beganwithout requiring further testing.
  • It's a scary situation we have gotten into but there are major movements in the works tocorrect that.
  • It will take years and will be an uphill battle with the chemical companiesjust like fighting the cigarette companies, or oil companies that don't want moreregulation or change.

For more information see my white paper titled IAQ and Your Health, A Deeper Look atVOCs and Formaldehyde Emissions.

Water changes things

Water-based paints contain lots of water as the carrier of pigments. When you applythis to a dry surface it soaks into the surface and changes it slightly.

A dry surfacesuddenly becomes wet for hours, and whatever was sealed under a thin skin may nowopen up and breathe again. It's like waking up your cereal in the morning: it snap,crackles and pops in the presence of milk.

  • If your Kelly Moore paint was rolled over anold oil-based paint that contained solvents, for example, the presence of extra moisturecould re-activate it causing off-gassing to start all over again, albeit in much lowerintensity.
  • Having sold paint for the past 21 years, reports of this type of experience hasbecome very commonplace.

So what to do about it?

In a previous Q&A, I explained various methods for accelerating the off-gassing and encapsulating the off-gassing via specialty encapsulating sealers. Please read more here.

Also, you may wish to read How to Test a New Product for Chemical Sensitivity.

Joel Hirshberg