34 HOW TO PICK A HEALTHIER PAINT
A coat of emulsion could pollute your home long after it has dried. Paint entrepreneur Edward Bulmer shares the eco alternative
What are the dangers of house paint?
Over the past century, the paint industry has increasingly used resins, synthetic dyes and chemicals derived from the plastics industry. The health dangers of these are still little-publicised – did you know a World Health Organisation’s report advised that decorating was a carcinogenic profession? Crucial paint qualities (dry time or shelf life) are commonly achieved with solvents, which are banned in all other consumer goods because some, such as phthalates and glycols, are believed to be linked to eczema and asthma. Have there been efforts to improve the industry? Yes. In 2004, the EU Paints Directive put a limit on the amount of VOCS (volatile organic compounds) in consumer paints, making them safer – but not 100 per cent. Also, paint labels still read ‘eco-friendly’ and claim to be ‘water-based’ when they are in fact based on acrylic resins from crude oil (that’s plastic to you and me) and merely diluted with water. What was your solution? Redecorating Grade 1-listed Goodwood House, I trialled a chemical-free, plant-oil bound emulsion coloured with natural pigments. While many oil-based paints give off gas even after they’ve dried, natural paints dry rapidly by oxidation, with no by-products. I was converted – not least by the depth of colour. And so you started your own paint
brand? As we were only able to reliably source white natural paint, we decided to create our own colour range using raw materials from plants, animals and minerals. What’s the future for paints? Firstly, we must insist that paint makers fully declare their ingredients. Longer term, we believe a healthy future lies in returning to using natural materials. edwardbulmerpaint.co.uk