Studies Evaluate Impact Paints Have on IAQ in Educational Environments

The health and comfort of students and teachers are among the many factors that contribute to learning and productivity in the classroom. Although every effort is made to achieve good indoor air quality (IAQ) through proper design, construction and operation of a school, studies show that more than half of our nation’s schools have problems aligned with poor IAQ. Typical causes of poor IAQ are volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that originate from construction materials, furnishings and finishes.

The GREENGUARD Environmental Institute, The Sherwin-Williams Co., Georgia chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, and the Chatham County (Georgia) School District conducted two demonstration studies to evaluate the impact that different types of paints have on IAQ in educational environments.

“These studies indicate that careful selection of paint products can reduce airborne exposure to VOCs, and that paint can be a true ally in the fight to improve the air quality of America’s schools,” says Dr. Marilyn Black, vice president and senior technical advisor for UL and founder of the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute.

The primary objective of the first school demonstration study was to compare airborne levels of VOCs when a conventional semi-gloss paint was used on interior wall surfaces versus a formulation of low VOC semi-gloss paint. The low VOC semi-gloss paint was compliant with the GREENGUARD Children and Schools emissions criteria (now recognized as GREENGUARD GOLD).

A second school demonstration study was also conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of Sherwin-Williams zero VOC enhanced Harmony Paint, which has been specifically formulated to help promote better IAQ by reducing airborne concentrations of formaldehyde and other aldehydes and is also GREENGUARD GOLD certified.

Additional studies in the laboratory validated the in-school demonstration studies findings that enhanced Harmony Paint with formaldehyde reducing technology can lower chemical exposure and increase indoor air quality.

The complete paper “Impact of Paint on Indoor Air Quality in Schools” is available for download.

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