Monday, May 18, 2009

Natures art work

Photos taken on a weekend escape to the beaches of QLD.
Photos subject to copyright.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Inhale Inspiring Colour

I have recently spent some time with professionals in the paint industry educating myself on the healthier products available to consumers. I have been truly inspired by the efforts of some companies to improve paints and interested to see some green washing of some products in the market place. Green washing being products that have been talked up, or presented as eco friendly when perhaps they truly do not meet this criteria when examined closely.

Most paints in the past have been cocktails of chemicals that leach fumes into the environment which can take a toll of human health, detrimental to painters, residents and the environemnt. According to the World Health Organisation paints that are manufactured using petrochemical refinement processes have been found to cause cancer, respiratory allergic reactions and a list of associated health affects. Studies have found that exposure to paint fumes has been linked to respiratory infections, headaches, dizziness, allergy reactions etc. I had once thought that someone, somewhere was watching and protecting consumers from health hazards sold in the form of products - I was sooooo wrong.

I am inspired by the work of Jo Immig an Australian Environmental Scientist who has dedicated her time to try and educate people on dangerous chemicals in our environment and in particular our homes. The National Toxics Network & Total Environment Centre issued a paper by Jo Immig called "How the chemical cocktail inside our homes is poisoning our children - working together to clear the air ". This paper highlights that it is now well documented that children are uniquely vulnerable to the effects of chemical pollution and that their exposure to it is partly responsible for increasing rates of chronic childhood diseases such as asthma, allergies, cancers and birth defects.

The "Working to clear the air" report lists the potentially harmful chemicals in paints :

Acrylic (water based paints )- Glycols (ethylene and propylene), glcol ethers, alcohols, formeldehyde, preservatives, amines (ammonium hydroxide, amino-2-methyl propanol), monomers, volatile plasticisers, fungicides such as aromatic mercury compounds.

Enamel (pertroleum solvent-based) - Aliphatic & aromatic hydrocarbons (toulene, xylene),ketones (acetone, methyl ethyl ketone), alcohols (butanol, ethanol), esters (n-propyl acetate, butyl acetate) free monomers, volatile plasticisers, fungicides such as aromatic mercury compounds.

The Australian Government is lacking in legislation to protect consumers from many harmful chemicals that are indoor air pollutants. The Australian Government does offer a National Chemical Information Gateway for those who have the time to question products on the shelves of our stores. If you want to educate yourself on what people are exposing themselves and their children to in everyday life through the products bought for homes go to

Although this information may seen overwhelming please don't retreat, there are non toxic paints on the market and as I have found out they are now getting very competitive with the major brands. When buying paint choose the product with the lowest VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) percentage you can find and that would be a great start to helping the health of your family, the painter and the environment !

If its all too hard call an environmentally passionate interior decorator who can help you create a healthy home.