If you are familiar with the expression, "a canary in a coal mine," then you are aware that birds have been testing our air quality for centuries. Many a miner did just that. A canary's respiratory system is so sensitive it could detect odorless carbon monoxide and hence warn miners of a potentially deadly leak. Sadly, the miner's sign was the canary instantly keeling over and dying, but those precious canaries saved many lives.
Birds, other pets, and even young children have much faster respiratory systems than the average adult human, meaning they cycle more air in and out and thus may be prone to more airborne dangers. For this reason, if you have young loved ones or pets in the house, then you might want to be very picky about the paint you splash on your walls. You do not want to introduce any fumes to your house that could harm your birds, pets, or young ones. The good news is, you do not have to. Look for zero VOCs or "volatile organic compounds" on your paint can.
Indoor Air Quality
Indoor air is considered to be three times more polluted than outdoor air. That is kind of shocking when you consider the pollutants being introduced into the air from factories and car exhaust.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air is one of the top five most hazardous environments to human life. Paints and other types of finishes are the main culprits that cause indoor air pollution.
Paints and other finishes release toxic fumes into the air of your home for years after it has been applied. And if it can affect you, imagine what it can do the health of your babies, birds, cats, and dogs.
Zero VOC Paints
If your objective is to find paint with absolutely no VOCs, it can be done, but some companies can be misleading. The federal government sets a limit for an allowable level of VOCs. Some companies that have VOCs below this allowable level claim to be VOC-free.
According to Consumer Reports, “Federal VOC limits are now set at 250 grams per liter for flat paints and 380 g/l for others.” So there is a limit on the amount of VOCs to be considered a "zero VOC paint" in the eyes of the government, but to the consumer, that does not necessarily mean that it has zero VOCs.
Another misleading issue is while the base paint may be free of VOCs, some color tints are not. So if you go shopping for paint, do some research and make sure that if you add tint, your product remains VOC-free. Beware the term “organic paint,” too. These paints have been found to contain toxic solvents such as turpentine.
A company that seems to be above board on its claims and manufactures a zero VOC paint product is ECOS Paints. The entire point of their business has been to exclude harmful chemicals from their products. The company manufactures many different types of paints and paint products including paints, primers, varnishes, and stains. The odorless ECOS products are suitable for use in a baby’s room or for people’s homes who have chemical sensitivities, asthma, and allergies.
ECOS Paints are ideal for people who are vegan and shun the use of any animal products because they contain no animal products of any kind. They are pesticide-free, herbicide-free, and entirely non-toxic.
ECOS Paints have a line of products that are suitable for just about any project in your home. They carry interior and exterior paints as well as trim and furniture stain and varnish—they even carry chalkboard paint. The product a household with a companion bird would probably be most interested in is their ECOS Pet Dwellings Primer. They do have paints specifically for bird dwellings, reptiles enclosures, as well as dog house paint.
A company representative was asked if there was any reason you need to worry if a bird home was painted with its products. Their representative said that even if a bird chipped some paint off the wall and consumed it, there would be no worry. It seems a UK business owner tested the theory about the product's toxicity. He drank a spoonful of ECOS paint from a paint can at their factory. Though not recommended, he did live to tell about it.