Paint is one of the biggest contributors to indoor air pollution.  That's why Green Seal, Inc. has updated its environmental standard for paint, a brand-new GS-11 standard for certification. Consumers, who continue to demand safer, more sustainable products, will welcome having more trustworthy paint choices. The new standard gives manufacturers guidelines in working harder to protect indoor air quality, increasing the number of prohibited chemicals, reducing VOC (volatile organic compound) levels for base paint and colorants, and expanding consumer education.

For many years consumers have been able to choose from high-quality paints such as Benjamin Moore, Dutch Boy and Olympic, among others, that are Green Seal-certified.  These paints have fewer chemicals and low or no VOCs so they have less impact on the environment and indoor air quality. And they perform as well as, or better than, other “non-green” paints.

“The revised standard will step up these guidelines”, said Dr. Arthur Weissman, President & CEO of Green Seal, “and reflect technological improvements in paint and promises to be groundbreaking in the paint industry. Consumers will soon be able to buy Green Seal certified paints with even more confidence.”

GS-11-The First Edition
The first edition of GS-11, established in 1993, prohibited 25 chemicals such as toluene, benzene and formaldehyde. But it may be possible to substitute a chemical that was equally hazardous as these substances.  Therefore, Green Seal decided to take a more comprehensive approach by using established lists of prohibited chemicals such as carcinogens, mutagens, reproductive toxins.  In addition, hazardous air pollutants and ozone-depleting compounds are also prohibited, thereby eliminating any possible formulation loopholes.

New GS-11-The Next Generation-Guidelines
• Many shoppers are not aware that they can increase the VOC levels by adding colorants to the base paint. For most paints the darker the tint, the higher the VOC of the final blend. Green Seal's updated GS-11 is the first paint standard in the US to reduce the VOC levels of colorants. By adjusting the levels of VOCs allowed in base paint and including criteria for colorants, the new standard ensures that even a heavily tinted paint will still contain minimum VOCs.

• Measurement of VOCs has historically been an imprecise process. The lower the VOC level, the more difficult it has been to get an accurate measure. Green Seal has incorporated a more direct test method that produces a more accurate reading, as the amount gets smaller. The test is estimated to be 10 times more effective in measuring exact VOC levels.

• Green Seal considers the whole life cycle of a product when developing standards. The use and disposal of a product is an important aspect of this cycle and effort has been made to “close the loop” on paint. Under the new standard manufacturers are required to include instructions for buying only what you need so there is less leftover paint. And for those times when there may be some remaining, the label should encourage recycling or proper disposal of the unused paint.  Leftover latex paint, in many cases, can be recycled and made into a new product, so be sure to consult your local authorities for those opportunities.

Green Seal is pleased to offer this new standard to manufacturers as a way to identify leaders in the industry and for consumers who continue to demand safer, more sustainable products. GS-11 can be downloaded at