Lead and therefore lead based paints are incredibly harmful to human health. Lead paint has been illegal in the United States since the early seventies. Building constructed before that time may contain lead paint and you should exercise caution when sanding walls or remodeling. Test kits for lead based paint are readily available and inexpensive.
The major threat to the environment in general from paints today is represented by Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs. There are many compounds that fall under the term of VOCs and they can be harmful to human health and/or the atmosphere.
There are high-quality low VOC and zero VOC paints on the market today. Be sure to investigate whether the colorant used to tint the paint is also low/zero VOC. Often, the VOCs can increase drastically when the paint is tinted. I have worked in the industry and strongly recommend Benjamin Moore’s Natura, which performs well and is zero VOC even after tinting.
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