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4 Paint Companies Settle FTC Charges

Friday, July 14, 2017

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Four paint companies have settled Federal Trade Commission charges that they deceptively promoted products as zero-VOC or emission-free.

Benjamin Moore & Co. Inc., ICP Construction Inc., YOLO Colorhouse LLC and Imperial Paints LLC have agreed to terms that prohibit them from making such claims unless both content in and emissions from their paints are actually zero or at “trace levels,” the FTC says.

The orders also prohibit the companies from using unsubstantiated seals, such as a “green promise,” when the seal does not signify a third-party endorsement.

Carol M. Highsmith / Library of Congress

Four paint companies have settled Federal Trade Commission (pictured) charges that they deceptively promoted products as zero-VOC or emission-free.

The terms of the settlement:

  • Prohibit the companies from making unqualified emission-free and VOC-free claims, unless both content and emissions are actually zero, or emissions are at trace levels, beginning at application and thereafter. The proposed orders’ definition of “trace level of emissions,” which generally tracks the Green Guides' “trace amount” test, requires, in part, that emissions at that level do not cause material harm that consumers typically associate with emission from the covered product, including harm to the environment or human health.
  • Prohibit the companies from making claims about emission, VOC levels, odor and other environmental or health benefits, unless they are true and not misleading, and unless the companies have competent and reliable scientific evidence to back them up.
  • Correct existing unsubstantiated claims—the orders would require the companies to send letters to their distributors, instructing them to stop using existing marketing materials and providing stickers or placards to correct misleading claims appearing on product packaging or labeling.
  • Bar the companies from providing third parties with the means of making false, unsubstantiated or misleading representations about material facts regarding paints.

The FTC voted to accept the consent agreements 2-0, and the agreements will be made available to public comment for 30 days.

The lines in question are Benjamin Moore’s Natura line, Imperial’s Lullaby and ECOS lines, ICP’s Muralo Paints and Colorhouse’s line.

Colorhouse released a statement to Durability + Design News saying that it is committed to being transparent with its customers. "As a result, we are in agreement with the proposed actions by the FTC to make labeling for VOCs clearer for consumers," the statement reads. "Going forward, Colorhouse will make our VOC Content and VOC Emissions statements as well as the third party laboratory tests used to determine the safety of our products more prominent on our paint can labels and marketing materials so our customers can make more informed decisions regarding the paint for their home."

Benjamin Moore also released a statement, saying the company "has been updating its marketing materials and product labels in coordination with guidance from the Federal Trade Commission."

Neither Imperial nor ICP responded to a request for comment Thursday afternoon (July 13).

This isn’t the first time in recent years that the FTC has issued consent orders with paint companies regarding VOC or green labels.

In spring 2013, The Sherwin-Williams Company and PPG Paints settled similar orders that had been issued the previous fall. Those were regarding Sherwin-Williams’ Dutch Boy Refresh and PPG’s Pure Performance interior paint lines.


Tagged categories: Emissions; Federal Trade Commission; Interior coatings; Regulations; Zero-VOC

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