Every few years, most of us will want to freshen up the interiors of our homes with a new coat of paint on the walls. Here’s what we need to know about paint fumes and effects on air quality:
Why Paints Give Off Fumes
The fumes from paint are a by-product of the solvents that keep it in liquid form. As it dries, the off-gassing process gives off the VOCs, but once it’s dry, the off-gassing stops. For that reason, whenever possible, you should take a break while painting. Make sure the home is well ventilated, with windows cracked open and fans circulating the air. Pregnant women and children should avoid paint fumes altogether.
The more we understand about the harmful effects of paint fumes, the less we want to be exposed to them. It’s no wonder, when the harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in many paints cause problems such as these:
- memory loss
- lack of coordination
When exposed to paint for a long time, humans may develop cancer, organ damage, asthma, or other life-threatening diseases.
Improving Air Quality While Painting
To mitigate the problem choose low- or no-VOC paint. Latex- or water-based paints tend to be low in VOCs, while oil-based paints are high. Here are some other ways to reduce negative effects:
- If you are ultra-sensitive or allergic to VOC-laden fumes, consider installing a carbon-activated air cleaner, which will trap the larger particles given off by paint. Activated carbon is well known for its ability to absorb gases and odors. Contact your HVAC consultant to learn more about these.
- You can sometimes speed up off-gassing by performing a bake-off of the fumes. This requires 1. closing doors and windows; 2. removing pets, plants and people from the home; and 3. turning up the temperature on the thermostat as high as possible for 24 hours. Return home and see if you smell fumes. If not, repeat the process.
For more information on indoor air quality, contact Rinaldi’s Energy Solutions. We serve Orlando and the surrounding area.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Orlando, Florida and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).