Are No-VOC Paint Claims Really Legit? Not Always.

Are No-VOC Paint Claims Really Legit? Not Always.

Cambria Bold
Jan 31, 2011

That no-VOC claim you see on the paint you recently purchased? Turns out that may not be the whole story.

The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus recently recommended that Sherwin Williams discontinue its no-VOC claims for its Harmony line of paints. The complaint against the company was issued by competitor Benjamin Moore. What's their line of argument?

Well, according to standard limits, a company can distinguish its paint product as having "zero VOCs" or "no VOCs" if the VOC content of the paint contains less than 5.0 grams per liter (g/L) VOC. In this case, both NAD and Benjamin Moore assert that, based on Sherwin-Williams' Material Safety Data Sheets and Technical Data Sheets, "certain colors in its Harmony line would exceed the 5.0 g/L VOC threshold when its 'deep base' paint was mixed with conventional colorants." So basically, the no-VOC claims don't hold up to all the colors you can get in the Harmony line.

Sherwin-Williams responds that they're "disappointed that the NAD did not agree with its position that both consumers and the industry understand zero-VOC claims to pertain only to the majority of colors in a paint line, as opposed to being a 100% ''line claim.' However, out of respect for the self-regulatory process, Sherwin-Williams will accept the NAD's decision and will take the NAD's findings into consideration in its future advertising for Harmony."

Read the full press release here.

This is likely the case with other no-VOC paint brands as well, so it's something to be aware of the next time you're shopping!

(Image: Flickr member Jinx! licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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