The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) approved final consent orders against four paint companies — Benjamin Moore & Co., Inc., ICP Construction Inc., YOLO Colorhouse, LLC, and Imperial Paints, LLC — that allegedly misled consumers by claiming their products were free of emissions and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). To clarify to industry that these orders represent the Commission’s current view, the FTC has rescinded its 2013 Enforcement Policy Statement Regarding VOC-Free Claims for Architectural Coatings.
According to the FTC’s complaints, the companies claimed their paints would not emit VOCs and other chemicals, including during and immediately after application. Some promotions also made explicit safety claims regarding babies, children, pregnant women, and other sensitive populations. However, the FTC alleged the companies had no evidence to support these claims.
The final orders settling the FTC’s claims bar the companies from making unqualified emission-free and VOC-free claims unless: 1) at all times during and after application, both content in and emissions from their paints are actually zero, or 2) emissions are at “trace” levels, as defined in the orders. The new “trace level test” outlined within the orders is as follows:
- A VOC has not been intentionally added to the covered product;
- Emission of the covered product does not cause material harm that consumers typically associate with emission, including harm to the environment or human health; and
- Emission of the covered product does not result in more than harmless concentrations of any compound higher than would be found under normal conditions in the typical residential home without interior architectural coating.
The final orders also prohibit the companies from making other unsubstantiated health and environmental claims and require Benjamin Moore and ICP Construction to disclose that seals appearing in their promotional materials are their own designations.
The final consent orders can be found here.