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

ELLE Decoration (UK) - - Hotlist | Wellbeing -

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

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