Painting Safety: Effects on Air QualityThe results of a fresh paint job might be enjoyable, but the work itself can pose a danger to your health if you’re not careful about your indoor air quality. Understanding paint’s effects on air quality will help you protect yourself.

Know What’s Lurking in Your Paint

Paint fumes don’t just smell bad, they also contain chemicals known as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, including benzene, xylene, and toluene. These compounds vaporize from the paint into the air you breathe.

Low-level, short-term exposure can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and irritated eyes and nose. If you don’t take proper precautions, painting even a small room can leave you with symptoms like these. Exposure to high levels of VOCs can damage your kidneys, liver, and central nervous system. Benzene has also been proven to cause cancer.

To minimize the amount of VOCs you have to deal with, look for paints labeled “low VOC” or that carry a third-party environmental certification, such as the Greengaurd Certification. Water-based paints are often a good choice.

Keep Things Fresh

VOCs are gaseous contaminants, so your HVAC air filter can’t stop them. The most effective way to prevent a buildup of VOCs while you’re painting is to ensure good ventilation. Fully open all the windows in the room. Set a box fan in one of the windows such that it will draw contaminated air out of the room and blow it outdoors. Can’t find a box fan? A floor-standing fan positioned to blow air out the window will also help.

If you have a respiratory health concern, such as asthma, or you’ll be painting a poorly ventilated area, invest in an approved paint and pesticide mask with ventilators.

Wait 24 to 72 hours before you start moving back into your freshly painted room. This way you’ll breathe in fewer VOCs and avoid smudging any still-wet paint.

Stick with low-VOC paints and keep your work area well ventilated, and you can enjoy the beauty of your new paint while limiting its effects on air quality in your home.

To learn more about maintaining ideal indoor air quality in your Indianapolis home, contact us at Mowery Heating, Cooling an Plumbing.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Brownsburg, Indiana and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).