Painting Safely at Home
Are you taking on more home improvement projects since the Safer at Home order was enforced? Now is the perfect time for those do-it-yourself paint projects. If you have small children, you know they love to get their hands dirty and paint with their fingers, but is it safe for them or in their mouth? Before you start your newest project, here are a few steps to take to keep your family safe from potentially toxic paint.
When picking out your paint, pay attention to the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the paint/varnish. These compounds create harsh fumes while painting.
Harmful VOCs include:
If available, selecting a low-VOC or no-VOC paint can protect you from the harmful side effects of the paint. If exposed, symptoms can be as minor as irritation of eyes, nose or throat, headache, nausea or trouble breathing. Exposure to a high concentration or volume of dangerous VOCs can be severe, causing damage to the nervous system, liver or kidneys.
To minimize any side effects, here are five simple steps to keep you safe:
- Select an indoor, water-based paint. This will generate less harmful fumes or VOCs.
- Read the label to determine if gloves or eye protection should be worn.
- Ventilate the area you are painting, by having fresh air enter the space constantly through fans or open windows/doors. If ventilation is not available, take frequent breaks to get fresh air.
- After painting, keep windows open for two-three This will allow harmful fumes to leave the space. If possible, avoid extended time spent while the room is drying.
- Securely close leftover containers when finished painting. Read the label for proper disposal if you plan to throw away the paint.
Pregnant women are at higher risk of paint’s harmful effects. Choose water-based paints, avoid painting projects during the first trimester and ensure there is ample ventilation in the area being painted. Ultimately, consult a medical professional before starting any home improvement projects.