Origins and Connections

by Dave on August 22, 2009

by Andy Meddick

Ok, I’m cranky; I admit it. We’re nearing the completion of Phase 1 of the store improvements and new services launch at the Good For You Market. I’m tired and eager to take a break from renovations until we start Phase 2 upgrades early 2010.

With the exception of work that needed the appropriate permits procured, we’ve done most of the work ourselves (that is, me/I). Early on I was up a ladder painting the storage room and felt dizzy. Not being one to take to heights well, I thought nothing of it. Later when my head still pounded, my throat was sore, and not even the Good For You cheese counter could tempt me, I paused for thought. What’s the connection? What have I eaten or done today that could have caused one with the health of a horse fed on organic hay, to feel poorly? I hadn’t actually eaten anything yet (kids do not try this at home – bad dietary sense, right Lisa, our very own Coastal Sussex Nutritional Columnist?). So, food was out. It had to be the paint. I turned to my friend Google and a VOC light bulb went off!

VOC’s – things that make you go, “Hmmm…” Short for Volatile Organic Compounds. Do not be fooled by the word, “Organic.” A certain large chain hardware store labels their potting mix as organic, when in fact it is not certified organic, it merely contains some organic matter, plus a lot of chemicals your tomato plants do not need. VOC’s are a toxic, unstable brew of chemicals. They break down easily and produce noxious fumes from paint, stains, and preservatives.

Methane, an extremely efficient greenhouse gas contributing to global warming, breaks down from VOC’s. Other hydrocarbon VOCs are also significant greenhouse gases via their role in creating ozone and in prolonging the life of methane in the atmosphere, although the effect varies depending on local air quality. Many conventional consumer products found around the house, such as cleaning solvents, paints, and wood preservatives from furniture all emit VOC compounds, which may contribute to sick building syndrome, allergic sensitization, and asthma.

While I’m on a roll – benzene, an aromatic VOC compound labeled as carcinogenic, is emitted from exhaled cigarette smoke. VOC compounds are also emitted from petroleum derivatives.

There are now Low-VOC, or Zero-VOC paints, cleaning solvents, and wood preservatives on the market. Major chain hardware stores carry brands such as Olympic Premium paint. I love the New Mexico based Bioshield company for their Zero-VOC paints, wood preservatives, and stains, Check them out at

Be very careful with the labeling on any product claimed as Zero-VOC. While some of these products may actually have low VOC content in the broader definition of VOC relevant to indoor air, some products so labeled may actually have larger VOC content but the VOCs contained in them may be exempt from the EPA’s definition. Isn’t that just a stellar example of disingenuous labeling! For more information on VOCs, visit EPA’s indoor air quality web pages at

So, what did I do with our high VOC paint? I removed the paint I’d put on, set the project back a couple of weeks, and proceeded with Zero-VOC paint. No fumes, I’m eating well, and less cranky. Good For Me – Good For You!

Oh, Origins – always research the origin of the products and product ingredients, that you’re buying, or seek out a retailer you can trust who is doing the research for you. I know just one retailer – who? Why Good For You, that’s who. Our family health and the health of our planet, is just too important to forge ahead with our eyes directed firmly the other way.

Until next week Tree Huggers, remember, hugs not drugs, Andy for Good For You Market.

This column first appeared in Coastal Sussex Weekly, July 2, 2009.

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