WASHINGTON Sherwin-Williams Co and a unit of PPG Industries that sells Pittsburgh Paints have agreed to stop advertising some of their paints as having "zero" harmful chemicals, the Federal Trade Commission said on Thursday.
The FTC, which frequently challenges companies for deceptive advertising, said that Sherwin-Williams Dutch Boy Refresh and PPG's Pure Performance paints both contained "more than trace levels" of volatile organic compounds, which are potentially harmful.
The FTC said the untinted paint may have met the standard of "zero" harmful VOCs, but once the paint was tinted the level of toxins was often much higher.
"In reality, the vast majority of Dutch Boy-formulated colors of paint are not zero VOC after tinting," the FTC said in a complaint filed alongside the settlement.
The situation was similar for paints made by PPG Industries, whose subsidiary PPG Architectural Finishes Inc makes paint under the names Pittsburgh Paints, Pure Performance Paints and others.
The FTC has been focusing recently on mortgage-related scams and deceptive environmental claims, which are essentially assertions that a certain product is better for people or the environment than it actually is.
Sherwin-Williams said its paint complied with federal standards. "S-W is reviewing its labeling and other marketing information to ensure compliance," said spokesman Mike Conway in an email.
PPG said the base paints did not contain the VOCs, but colorants did. "PPG is working with the Federal Trade Commission to increase clarity regarding the marketing of low or zero-VOC paints," said spokesman Jeremy Neuhart in an email.
(Reporting By Diane Bartz; Editing by Tim Dobbyn and Leslie Adler)