Shade-y claims of harmless “green” paint

If you’re thinking about sprucing up the interior of your home with a fresh paint job, using a paint with no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) may be important to you since these compounds can be harmful to people. However, the FTC warns that some paint companies mislead people about the amount of VOCs emitted by their paints.

The FTC’s settlements with four paint companies say the companies claimed their paints were emission-free or VOC-free before, during and after use, and harmless to pregnant women and babies. But the FTC says the claims were based on tests that weren’t consistent with how the paints are actually used.

All paints release chemicals when being applied and while drying. Some of these chemicals can be unsafe — especially to babies and people with asthma or allergies.

What’s more, two of the companies even created official-looking seals for their paints, to make it look like third parties verified these safety statements. According to the FTC, neither company disclosed that they actually created the seals themselves.

If you want to be safe, follow manufacturers’ instructions for proper ventilation and never paint while babies or other sensitive people are in the room. For information on environmentally-safe claims, check out the FTC’s webpage on shopping for green products.