Avoiding Paint Fumes

When painting outdoors, the natural air flow usually takes care of the overwhelming smell of fresh paint. However, when painting indoors, you need to protect yourself from paint fumes.

How to protect yourself from paint fumes

MamaShaw / Pixabay

Even exterior painting can require some protection depending on where your project is located. If there isn’t any breeze to help remove the paint smell, then your lungs could be filling up with toxins.

The prep work for painting can also be an issue because of sanding and other chemicals used to get a surface ready. Here is more information on how harmful it is to breathe paint fumes:

Breathe easy by donning the proper respiratory health gear when working with harmful substances.

  • Many microscopic and scent-free particles can get into your airway during painting and renovation projects, so having the right type of protection is critical.
  • Masks guard against nuisance-level, non-toxic dust and pollen.
  • Respirators offer protection against harmful chemicals, vapors and mold spores.
  • Particulate, or filtration respirators, protect against solid particles while gas and vapor respirators offer protection against non-solid substances.

Dangers of Oil-Based Paint

Working with oil-based paint is especially strong smelling and hazardous. This paint contains volatile organic compounds, also known as VOCs, that can cause symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, eye irritation, breathing issues and even cause you to blackout.

The fumes are also extremely flammable, as seen in this video appropriately titled Never Ever Do This At Home:

Prolonged exposure to VOCs can lead to liver or kidney damage along with other severe health problems, according to the Environmental Protection Division. Thankfully, there are some alternatives and steps you can take to help you avoid the potential side effects mentioned:

Safeguard You and Your Family

  1. Choose an oil-based paint that is labeled “low VOC.” This means that the paint contains lower levels of volatile organic compounds than traditional oil-based paint. Low VOC paints still have a slight odor, but the harmful fumes are greatly reduced.

    Ventilation for indoor painting

    Kaz / Pixabay

  2. Open all doors and windows to the location that contains the oil-based paint. Because of the need for this proper ventilation, it’s a good idea to plan painting jobs for mild weather.
  3. Turn off the central heating and air system if the air return is located in the room you are painting. If the air return is in another room, you can leave the system running if desired.
  4. Plug in square box fans and position them near all doors and windows of the room or location being painted. The fans should point towards the window so that they blow the interior air out of the room. The fans should be turned on as soon as painting begins and remain on until three days after painting is complete.

How to Reduce Fumes From Oil-Based Paints

Even water-based latex paint can be a problem, as findings show that it also contains certain solvents that can be harmful to breathe. Ask any house painter in Denver and they’ll tell you that buying paint with low VOCs, proper ventilation, and using a mask or respirator will go a long way toward keeping you safe.