When I was little, I loved the smell of house paint. I have asthma, though -- the kind of asthma that lands you in the hospital at two in the morning because your inhaler just isn't cutting it -- so whenever I tried to sneak into a room that was being repainted my mother would shoo me out of it.
What is it in that fresh-paint smell that's such a trigger for asthmatics? Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemical gases released by a wide array of home products, including many cleaners, furnishings, pesticides and permanent markers. They can cause heart and lung problems and make up a large part of both indoor and outdoor air pollution.
Mark Gluck was tired of dealing with asthma attacks from exposure to paint fumes. Plenty of other people are as well, it turns out. Lucky for them, Gluck decided to do something about it -- last March he started his own business. Enviro-Paint does interiors and exteriors using paints with low odor and low or no VOCs, and Gluck makes an effort to use other sustainable painting tools and to recycle as many of his materials as possible.
Thinking of repainting? If you're in Arizona you could always contact Enviro-Paint for an estimate. For the rest of the country, resources like Green Seal can help you find environmentally friendly paints. Building Green TV covered exteriors in Episode 6; if you missed it, you can check out the episode guide on buildinggreentv.com.