VOCs: Why Your New Paint Job Shouldn’t Smell Like Paint
Spring cleaning is upon us. Maybe this year, for you, that means a new paint job – if so, Grist’s Umbra Fisk has green advice for you in her eco-paint 101 video blog, recently posted online. Most conventional paints used today are chemical-based and unnecessarily toxic. They contain the VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that give conventional paint its strong smell. So if you can smell your paint, you can bet it’s not doing you or the planet any good. What it’s doing is offgassing harmful ozone, aggravating respiratory health problems, causing headaches and possibly even kidney and liver damage, according to the EPA.
The EPA also recognizes that chemical-based paints are a big part of why indoor air quality can actually be 2-5 times worse than outdoor air quality, even in cities. VOC concentrations can be up to ten times higher indoors than out. On the bright side: we do have much more control over the quality of the air we breathe indoors than the air we breathe outdoors. And fortunately, paints labeled “low-“ or “no-VOC” are easier and easier to find these days, don’t list toxins like ethylene glycol on their ingredient lists, and work just as well as the old stuff, according to Green Depot’s store manager, Ana Paglioni.
For zero-VOC brand recommendations, check out National Geographic’s Green Guide Paint Database. And consider Milk Paint, a company that’s been around since the first Earth Day 40 years ago, whose milk-based non-toxic paint comes as a dehydrated powder – in bags rather than in tubs – so as to cut down on CO2 emitted during shipping.
To create wiser adults, add empathy to the school curriculum.
- Stories are at the heart of learning, writes Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Executive Director for the Global Oneness Project. They have always challenged us to think beyond ourselves, expanding our experience and revealing deep truths.
- Vaughan-Lee explains 6 ways that storytelling can foster empathy and deliver powerful learning experiences.
- Global Oneness Project is a free library of stories—containing short documentaries, photo essays, and essays—that each contain a companion lesson plan and learning activities for students so they can expand their experience of the world.
An extinction events expert sounds a dire warning.
- The supervolcano in Yellowstone National Park could cause an "ultra-catastrophe," warns an extinction events writer.
- The full eruption of the volcano last happened 640,000 years ago.
- The blast could kill billions and make United States uninhabitable.
Just before I turned 60, I discovered that sharing my story by drawing could be an effective way to both alleviate my symptoms and combat that stigma.
I've lived much of my life with anxiety and depression, including the negative feelings – shame and self-doubt – that seduced me into believing the stigma around mental illness: that people knew I wasn't good enough; that they would avoid me because I was different or unstable; and that I had to find a way to make them like me.
A joint study by two England universities explores the link between sex and cognitive function with some surprising differences in male and female outcomes in old age.
- A joint study by the universities of Coventry and Oxford in England has linked sexual activity with higher cognitive abilities in older age.
- The results of this study suggest there are significant associations between sexual activity and number sequencing/word recall in men. In women, however, there was a significant association between sexual activity in word recall alone - number sequencing was not impacted.
- The differences in testosterone (the male sex hormone) and oxytocin (a predominantly female hormone) may factor into why the male cognitive level changes much more during sexual activity in older age.
Mathematicians studied 100 billion tweets to help computer algorithms better understand our colloquial digital communication.