Growing concerns about the impact of chemical paints on health and the environment have led to a growing demand for non-toxic paints. Due to environmental regulations that have forced conventional paint manufacturers to significantly reduce the VOC content in paints, most large manufacturers have adapted and modified their production processes to lower the toxic content of their paints below the safe threshold, however, many of these still contain VOC solvents, chemical pigments and fungicides.
VOCs are organic (carbon-based) chemical compounds that evaporate easily into the atmosphere and are known to be a major contributor to global climate change. Many of them are highly toxic and linked to numerous health problems such as respiratory diseases, asthma, dizziness, headaches, nausea, fatigue, skin disorders, eye irritation, liver and kidney damage and even cancer. Modern chemical paints continue to emit VOCs even many years after their application.
For this reason Gesa Industry places extreme attention on the choice of compounds to be used for painting interiors for trains and rolling stock, in order to always guarantee, in addition to the quality of finishes, also maximum safety to the end user who will come into contact with the various surfaces of the interiors.
But how do you recognize a safe and non-toxic paint?
Non-toxic paints are often called low VOC, No-VOC, VOC-Free, odourless, "green", natural or organic paints, but there are no fixed standards for the definition of these labels and they are often used improperly for marketing purposes.
To help consumers make the right purchasing decisions, several countries have legislated on the subject by establishing standard labels that indicate whether the paint has met certain environmental requirements, in accordance with government regulations. These labels can be found as logos on paint cans and include the European eco-label that identifies the eco-product. In the UK, for example, VOC labels have been used since 2009, indicating the VOC content using one of five classifications: Minimum (0-0.29%), Low, Medium, High and Very High (VOC content above 50%).
Thanks to these changes, over the years, many conventional paints have reached very low VOC levels, even eliminating them completely in the case of paints that use water, or natural oils, as a carrier instead of carcinogenic petrochemical solvents.