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How Painting Affects Indoor Air Quality

A fresh coat of paint can breathe new life into a room, but its effects on air quality aren’t so attractive. In the warm San Antonio area, it’s easy to assume leaving a window open while painting is enough to mitigate any negative health effects, but this isn’t always the case.

The Danger in Paint Fumes

Paint frequently contains chemicals known as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, such as benzene, toluene, and xylene. As the paint dries, these chemicals “off gas” from the paint into the air you breathe. Not only do they cause an odor, but they also pose a threat to your health. Some, such as benzene, are known carcinogens.

Moderate, short-term exposure can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and irritation to your eyes, nose and throat. Severe or long-term exposure can damage your liver, kidneys, and nervous system.

Federal regulations require all paints to be labelled with their VOC content. Whenever possible, look for paints labeled “low-VOC” to limit the amount of these chemicals you bring home. Low-VOC paints have less negative effects on air quality compared to standard paint formulas, but should still be used with care.

Simple Steps for Safe Painting

Because VOCs are gases, your air conditioner filter can’t trap them. That means good ventilation is essential to maintaining your home’s air quality while painting. Open all the room’s windows as widely as possible for maximum airflow. In at least one window, place a box fan positioned to draw air out of the room. If there’s no box fan available, set up a floor-standing fan near the window positioned to blow air outdoors.

Let the paint dry for a minimum of 24 hours or ideally 48 hours before you start moving things in. Waiting limits your exposure to VOCs while also making sure you won’t smudge any paint that hasn’t quite dried yet.

All paints have some effects on air quality, but by choosing your paint carefully and using good ventilation while you work, you can enjoy your room’s new look without any negative health consequences.

To ensure optimal indoor air quality, contact Beyer Boys.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Antonio, Texas area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).