Why Are Paint Fumes Unsafe & Toxic?
DIY projects are a good way to put your skills to use as you do something on your own. One such popular DIY project is interior painting. But, there has been an outcry on the dangers that paint portend when inhaled. Why are paint fumes unsafe and toxic? This article comprehensively examines why the chemicals in paints are toxic.
Are All Paints Toxic?
You should note that not all paints used in DIY or industrial projects are harmful. It depends on the ingredients used by the manufacturer of the paint. Different manufacturers use different materials for their paints (solvent-based, latex and oil). As such, it would be wrong to assume that all paints are hazardous to health.
What you should be worried about are the paints that contain VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). These have toxic chemicals that have a harmful effect on your health when inhaled. As you paint, the chemicals silently evaporate into the environment, where you inadvertently inhale them.
Oil Based Paints Versus Water-Based Paints
Paint can generally be categorized into two: oil-based paints and water-based paints. Oil-based paints have solvents added to them, to provide a glossy touch to your walls. Water-based oils are, basically, acrylic emulsions.
What Are The Dangers Of Inhaling Paint Solvents?
The fumes from the paint worsen cases of sinusitis and asthma. When inhaled, the solvents invade the lungs and the upper respiratory tract. Here, they impede quality breathing and access to fresh air. Asthma and sinusitis patients are particularly affected by this.
Once in the lungs, the fumes gain access to the bloodstream with ease. Large quantities of the solvents in your blood lead to shortness of breath, dizziness and even blackout.
In addition, the VOCs cause severe irritation of the throats and eyes and a burning sensation in the nasal membranes. If the painter is exposed for long durations on a regular basis, they heighten their chances of getting life-threatening conditions. They will be at risk of getting hypertension, liver damage, and cancers, amongst others.
Paints Fumes Can Cause Serious Damage
Studies conducted on lab rats show that large quantities of the paint solvents in the blood can cause a breakdown of the central nervous system. Continued exposure to these chemicals leads to birth defects.
A study conducted by the Sheffield and Manchester University shows that men are likely to develop serious fertility issues from prolonged exposure to paint solvents. On this score, professional male painters fair very badly. According to the WHO, they face not only fertility issues but also the risk of developing dementia and lung cancer.
The solvents are also unsafe for the skin. They may make you develop various skin allergies. White spirit, which most painters use to remove paint off their skin, is equally dangerous.
Are There Any Solutions?
Yes, solutions for odor elimination do exist. Observe the following precautions:
1. Use Water-Based Paints
Water-based paints usually do not contain harmful solvents. They also have a more pleasant odor. However, they may not give you that smooth, glossy finish.
2. Try Natural Paint
Eco-paint is 100% natural. It does not use VOCs or any other solvents. Also, you will like its smell.
3. Avoid Turpentine Or White Spirit
Some painters use turpentine or white spirit to clean their paintbrushes. Both turpentine and white spirit contain harmful solvents – you may want to avoid them! Instead, use water to clean your paintbrushes.
4. Use A Mask
A mask protects you from inhaling the toxic fumes.
5. Ventilate The Room
Ensure there is enough circulation of air when you are painting. This will help the paint to dry faster, and provide you with an abundant supply of fresh air as well.
6. Avoid Long Exposure To Fresh Paint
Take regular breaks in the course of the task. Go outdoors for fresh air, as you give the paint time to dry.
When done correctly painting is a very enjoyable activity. Ensure that you enjoy this experience by giving your health a priority. Always observe due diligence for the best result.