When you design your home decor, the most important thing is that it be a healthful home. This means no toxic emissions.  How do we create a home with no toxic emissions? It’s all about the materials we use. The largest surfaces areas of our homes are the walls and floors, so let’s start there.  Add the surface areas of our furniture, and you have an enormous exposure zone to toxins. This is because walls, floors, and furniture are usually painted or stained with substances that are quite toxic. There are however, safe alternatives. If paint is eco friendly, it is most often non-toxic, so look for green product certification such as Green Seal Standard (GS-11).

You know that outdoor air is polluted, but did you know that indoor air is three times more polluted than outdoor air? The EPA deemed indoor household air to be one of the top 5 hazards to human health. Conventional finishes and paints are among the leading causes, because they release low level toxic emissions into the air continuously, for years after their application.  Beware of any product containing ethylene glycol, formaldehyde, heavy metals, or methylene chloride.

A variety of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were essential to the performance of paint, until recently. Now the technology has improved, and non-toxic alternatives are available.

Consumer demand and new environmental regulations drove the development of Low-VOC and Zero-VOC varieties of paint. Most paint manufacturers now make at least one variety of non-VOC paint. They emit only low odor when they are applied and no odor once they are cured. This is because they emit little or no hazardous fumes. With no outgassing, you can occupy painted areas sooner with no complaint about odor. These new paints are cost effective, durable, and less harmful your health. They are also better for the environment, because they reduce contamination of landfills and groundwater. They also lower damage to the ozone.

You won’t have to sacrifice quality to go green. Low VOC products are great for even and thorough coverage, are great for the ability to cover flaws on previous coats of paint, and are scubable for cleaning if someone leaves dirty hand prints on them. Clean up after application is even easier than it would be with conventional paint. Just wash the brushes in soap and warm water. Disposal is much simplified because these eco friendly paints are NOT deemed hazardous waste.

The term “non-toxic” really means low-toxic because even Zero-VOC formulas contain some small amount of toxins, and are not suitable to deliberately eat or drink.

They are simply much less likely to harm you than conventional products when both are used for their intended purpose.

The three categories of low-toxic finish and paint are: Low-VOC, Zero-VOC, and Natural Paints. Of the three types, the safest for your health and the environment are the Natural Paints and Finishes. Natural raw ingredients used to make these natural paints and finishes are plant dyes and essential oils, water, plant oils and resins; bee’s wax, natural latex, milk casein; earth and mineral dyes, natural minerals such as clay, talcum, and chalk.  Those that are water based have almost no smell. The ones that are oil based usually have a pleasant fragrance of essential oils or citrus. It is uncommon for someone to be allergic or sensitive to these natural paints and finishes. Non-toxic paint strippers are also available, although they are more expensive and take longer to work.

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Anne E. Moss writes more about home decor on her blogs and sites. You can get ideas for new home decor projects on her website: http://decorating-themes.com/ and read product reviews for home decor items on her shopping blog http://interior-design-ideas.com/