Painting is one of the most common home improvement projects. DIY home painters or professional house painters near me can do the work. When painting a home, remember that most paints have some fumes that will be noticeable during and after the painting is complete.
Latex (water-based) paints are highly favored among almost all painters, as they are easy to apply, dry quickly, clean easily, and are safe compared to oil-based paints. Latex paints may not be entirely risk-free, though. That is why proper ventilation and taking protective measures are essential to make painting much safer, especially for infants and children, elderly folks, family members with health sensitivities, or pregnant women living in the household.
What are VOCs?
Indeed, paints can give off fumes, even those with low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). If you aren’t careful or working in an environment with inadequate ventilation, using these paints can lead to hazardous health effects.
VOCs are chemicals in solvents and small quantities in most latex paints and coatings. They are organic compounds that contain carbon, including benzene, formaldehyde, and methylene chloride.
It is also possible to find VOCs in other products, such as paint thinners, adhesives, varnishes, lacquers, and several cleaning products.
While VOCs can help transfer paint from the can to the surface and aid the paint’s flow, they also act as air pollutants. The VOCs get released into the air as the paint dries, creating fumes. These paint fumes may not have a harmful effect when one is not exposed to them for a long time or frequently. However, inhaling these fumes for a while may temporarily irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, cause allergic skin reactions (such as rashes), or lead to headaches, dizziness, lightheadedness, or nausea. The presence of VOCs is why wearing protective gear should not be considered an option while working with paint. It’s still best to wear a pair of gloves, a pair of goggles, and a dust mask or respirator when you’re painting.
Frequent exposure to VOCs can lead to long-term dangerous health effects. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) even states that some VOCs are suspected carcinogens. These long-term health effects caused by VOCs may include liver damage, kidney damage, damage to the central nervous system, asthma, and certain types of cancers.
Working with paint under poor conditions or in areas lacking sufficient ventilation can increase the risk of contracting these adverse health effects.
How to protect yourself from the paint fumes
When painting or using other products with VOCs, you should use personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, a pair of goggles, a dust mask, or a respirator. When you wear PPEs while painting, it will minimize any inhalation and contact with the paint.
It’s still best to use paints and other substances with VOCs outdoors when possible. But if you’re painting indoors, open the doors and windows, and turn on the fan for at least 24 hours.
You can also find new products on the market that claim to be low in VOCs or VOC-free. However, they may still not be completely free of these compounds. The EPA establishes low levels for paint manufacturers to produce and sell their products in these categories.
If you are reluctant to inhale these fumes, you may want to hire house painters near me so that you can be away for a while as the pros paint your home. Hire experienced, licensed, and insured painters in your area to ensure the best results.