During the campaign “Think before you buy” which starts in May, customers will learn more about how to choose  paints, varnishes and adhesives with less hazardous substances for their home renovation in 16 construction retailer K-rauta stores in Latvia and Estonia.

Information stand in Pärnu K-rauta store

“Eurobarometer” surveys* show that almost half of the Latvian and Estonian citizens are aware of harmful chemicals which paints may contain, however only a little more than 20% of those people check the ingredients of an item before purchasing for the sake of their health or environmental reasons. It is almost half as much as in average in EU. Furthermore around 45% of the citizens admitted that they only partly follow the safety instructions given on the DIY products.

„It is for the first time that with this campaign we pay so much attention to such commonly used renovation materials like paints, varnishes and adhesives. By proposing customers simple advice on how to choose safer products, we invite them to think before they put one or another product in the shopping basket. Paints, varnishes and adhesives may pollute indoor air. Poor indoor air may affect the well-being of those, who inhale it,” says Valters Toropovs, the Environmental Expert from the Baltic Environmental Forum, Latvia.

“Safer choice” labels in Pärnu K-rauta store

The special price tag “Safer choice” is introduced in all the K-rauta stores to help the customers find more easily the indoor paints and adhesives with less hazardous substances. This price tag is given to those products whose ingredients have been carefully studied by the Environmental and Chemical experts from the Baltic Environmental Forum.

„The price tag confirms that particular product contains fewer substances which may harm health or the environment. However these products can’t be called ecological or “green”. The safest option however always is a product with the eco-label (e.g.  Nordic Swan or EU Flower logo), but since the range of available products is limited, we introduced our price tag to help those who are looking for less hazardous paints or adhesives,” explains Valters Toropovs.

Customers can also get a consultation from specially trained shop assistants on how to find safer paints and adhesives. The campaign will last until the end of the next year in all K-rauta stores. More information about how to make a better choice and choose paints and adhesives with less hazardous substances is also available under publications in this website.

If the paints and adhesives are chosen only based on such qualities as colour, gloss or fast drying they may pollute the indoor air. The main pollutants are volatile organic compounds, e.g. toluene, xylene. Most of them are toxic, irritate eyes, skin or throat, and may cause allergic reaction. Young children, elderly people or those with chronic diseases are the most vulnerable. The USA Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that indoor air can be two to five times more polluted than the outdoor air. During the renovation indoor air quality can deteriorate even more.

More information:
Kristine Senele, Action coordinator
E-mail: kristine.senele@bef.lv

* Data from Eurobarometer surveys Consumer understanding of labels and the safe use of chemicals (2011), Chemicals (2013), Europeans’ attitudes toward chemicals in consumer products (2009)