Paints: Third-Party Organizations Develop Standards, Certification Programs
While Green Seal and Greenguard primarily focus on paints’ impact on the environment and building occupants, MPI targets performance.
Green Seal released its GS-11 standard in 1993 and revised it in 2008. The 1993 version listed 25 chemicals manufacturers could not include in their formulations, including common chemicals, such as formaldehyde and benzene. In 2008, Green Seal implemented more comprehensive lists.
“Instead of just 25, what we said is, ‘You can’t have anything that is carcinogenic, or you can’t have anything that is a mutagen,’” says Christine Chase, certification manager with Green Seal. “We went with these more comprehensive lists so that you couldn’t just say, ‘OK, I’ll take one chemical out and put something else in.’ We wanted to make sure there weren’t any of these hazardous chemicals in the paint at all.”
Greenguard certifies paints primarily for their toxicity related to emissions released into the air, Black says. Most paint manufacturers are certifying their products to comply with Greenguard’s Children and Schools certification program, which is more stringent than its general Indoor Air Quality Certified program.
“When they (VOCs) get into the air, they can react with other oxidants in the air, like ozone, to create very fine particles,” Black says. “Very fine particles are a problem because they can be inhaled and get very deep into the lungs. Part of the Greenguard certification program is putting a cap on the total amount of chemicals that can be released into the air, which helps reduce the formation of those fine particles.”