ENVIRONMENT : Nontoxic Paint Holds Up to Competition

From Times-Post News Service

"Green," or nontoxic, paint passes the smell test, but how does it hold up on the walls?

Recently, Consumer Reports and Environmental Building News announced the results of tests on Glidden Spred 2000, the first product from a major manufacturer that eliminates solvents containing chemicals thought to make some people sick.

Claiming it has zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs), ICI Chemicals & Polymers Ltd., Glidden's parent company, launched the nontoxic latex paint in mid-1992. It is priced competitively with other standard paints, around $18 or $20 per gallon.

Consumer Reports measured Spred 2000's VOC content at between 0.6% and 2% by weight. Benjamin Moore Aquavelvet contained 77 grams per liter, or 3% by weight.

Environmental Building News found that Spred 2000 and its industrial counterpart, Lifemaster 2000, "go on and perform almost exactly like conventional latex paints in the same price range."

But, citing unpublished test results by another paint company, the newsletter said Spred 2000 came out "far below" the other 16 high-end flat latex wall paints tested for scrub resistance.

Consumer Reports confirms that opinion. "It resisted staining very well but didn't hold up to scrubbing."

Dennis Scott, manager of the Technical Assistance Center at Glidden, said the scrub tests on flat latex paint were conducted with highly abrasive brushes that a homeowner would never use.

A number of small companies, such as Livos Plantchemistry of Santa Fe, N.M.; AFM Enterprises of Riverside, and the Old-Fashioned Milk Paint Co. in Groton, Mass., have been producing paints made of natural resins or nontoxic synthetics for more than a decade.

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