Ever since water-based paints and finishes began carving out a market for replacing solvent-based products, claims for the amount of solvent these products contain have been getting increasingly lower. That is, until a few years ago when some products actually began claiming zero VOCs.
I’ve been suspicious of this claim ever since I first saw it. Even though resin manufacturers have been getting better at making resins that form a film with less and less solvent, getting to zero solvent has always seemed unlikely to me, especially with the pigment used in paint.
Apparently, I wasn’t the only one to question these marketing claims. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has just settled with four paint companies: Benjamin Moore, ICP Construction, YOLO Colorhouse and Imperial Paints, who have agreed to orders to stop making these claims unless they can prove them.
Furthermore, the FTC required Benjamin Moore and ICP Construction to remove the environmental seals of approval from their cans. It turned out that they had awarded these seals of approval to themselves. That’s kind of like claiming a product has been voted the best. Voted by whom. The office workers?
Similar settlements for falsely claiming zero VOCs had already been made several years ago with Sherwin-Williams and PPG Architectural Finishes.
When the FTC reaches a consent order, as in these cases, it applies only to future actions and carries a civil penalty of up to $40,000 for each violation. The FTC works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers.
Now if you’ve been following my writings, you know that I don’t have a problem using coatings that contain solvents (as long as you protect yourself with good air movement, as with a spray booth). But you also know that I have a big problem with manufacturers who deceive in their advertising and labeling. Good for the FTC.
– Bob Flexner