Sherwin-Williams asked to modify no-VOC paint claims

Read the label carefully when searching for a low- or zero-VOC paint.

The zero-VOC paint you buy in the store may not be as low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by the time it’s tinted. That’s the crux of a complaint that Benjamin Moore filed against competitor Sherwin-Williams.

Sherwin-Williams, maker of the Harmony line of paints, has been asked to modify or discontinue advertising that claims the entire line of paints is completely free of VOCs.

For consumers, the difficulty lies in understanding the claims of no or zero-VOCs. Sherwin Williams advertised that the Harmony base coat met the requirement of fewer than 5 grams per liter of VOCs. However, the colorants used to tint the paint to the customer’s requirements may result in VOC levels as high as 112 grams per liter.

Competitor Benjamin Moore challenged the claims with the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau. Benjamin Moore claimed that because Sherwin-Williams only advertised tinted paints and consumer typically purchase tinted paints, the promotion of zero-VOC paint was misleading.

Sherwin Williams countered that some colors did not exceed the 5 grams per liter benchmark even when tinted.

The Better Business Bureau recommended that Sherwin-Williams make it clear to consumers that there are exceptions to the claim for the entire line of paints by disclosing that the addition of conventional colorants to the Harmony base paint may result in higher levels of VOCs for some colors.

Dana Autenrieth of Benjamin Moore told Environmental Building News that paint buyers looking for low-VOC or zero-VOC paints should ask if the product they are buying still meets the desired standard after tinting.

For more information, visit our low-VOC paint directory.

Topics: Paint | Low VOC and No VOC

Companies: Sherwin-Williams

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