PhotoChoosing the right paint for your home doesn’t necessarily boil down to what you think looks best, but what is safest for you and your family. That’s something consumers should be reminded of thanks to a recent settlement reached by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The agency announced a settlement with four paint companies over alleged deceptive claims that their products contained no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and were safe before and after application for babies, pregnant women, and other sensitive populations.

As part of the settlement, the companies -- Benjamin Moore & Co., Inc.; ICP Construction Inc.; YOLO Colorhouse, LLC; and Imperial Paints, LLC – have all agreed to stop making unqualified claims that their paints are emission-free and VOC-free. Each company will also be prohibited from making other unsubstantiated health and environmental claims.

Four stipulations

In its four separate complaints (1,2,3,4), the agency said that each company made unsubstantiated claims about the safety of its products and facilitated deception by retailers who sold their paint. In the cases of Benjamin Moore and ICP Construction, officials also said that paints were marketed using environmental seals without disclosing to consumers that they were self-awarded by the companies.

FTC officials say that each of the four proposed consent orders contain four provisions that will help ensure that the companies don’t engage in similar conduct in the future:

  1. Each company will be prohibited from making emission-free and VOC-free claims unless both the content and emissions are actually zero, or if emissions are at trace levels before and after the paint is applied;
  2. Each company will be prohibited from making claims about emissions, VOC levels, odor, and other environmental and health benefits unless there is competent and reliable scientific evidence to back them up;
  3. Each company will be required to send letters to distributors with instructions to stop using existing marketing materials, along with stickers or placards to correct misleading claims that appear on product packaging and labeling; and
  4. Each company is barred from providing third parties with false, unsubstantiated, or misleading claims about paint products.

The agreements with each company are subject to public comment for 30 days and will end on August 10, 2017. Consumers who want to submit a comment electronically can visit the agency’s release page here for more information.

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