Painting is one of the most prevalent ways of home improvement. A fresh coat of paint has the capability of transforming any dull old place into looking brand new. However, if it’s not handled with precautions, the fume of the odor emitted from these paints may cause harmful effects on one's health.

What causes the harmful effect?

The majority of the paints used to consist of Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which get released into the air during the painting process in the form of gas. This paint odor has high health risks when inhaled.

Regular paints are generally of two types: Water-based (latex) and oil-based (alkyd). The oil-based paint consists of VOCs and is the reason for the emission of the dangerous odor. Though there are low-VOC latex paints available, they may still emit a particular harmful odor or fume level. Thus, water-based paint is an excellent replacement for oil-based paint.

What are the dangers of breathing paint fumes?

The effect of these fumes may depend on one’s level of exposure to the fumes like the amount of time exposed, the quantity of the chemical in the inhaled air or when indoor, the age of the person being exposed, an individual’s resistance capabilities and also the health condition of an individual (pre-existing medical issues).

If one is exposed for too long or depending on the effect one has to these fumes, one may show mild to severe symptoms of irritation in the lung, eyes, nose, or throat (causing trouble in breathing and vision issues), dizziness, headaches, nausea. Some may also have allergic reactions to the fumes or may lead to certain conditions like asthma, rhinitis, and eczema.

In case one is exposed to the fumes in high concentration or for an extended time, then one may also have long term effects on their nervous system, kidney, liver, etc.

Who is more vulnerable to the harmful effects of the fumes?
It doesn't always depend on one's level of exposure, as mentioned earlier, but it may vary from individual to individual. Some may be at a higher risk of falling susceptible to the odor’s effects, and some may not.

Let’s find out who may be susceptible to higher risks.

  • Pregnant women may have a high-risk factor due to their delicate physical condition. In contrast, children and babies still do not have a strong immune system to prepare their bodies to protect themselves from allergic reactions, which might lead to medical conditions like asthma, rhinitis, and eczema, as mentioned earlier.

    Thus, it's always advisable for pregnant women, children, and babies to avoid being exposed to paint odor as paint "odor" has high health risk factors.

  • Individuals with respiratory issues may be at risk when exposed to these VOC fumes, as it may cause acute breathing issues and may require immediate medical attention. Thus, individuals who have asthma or severe lung issues should avoid being exposed to paint fumes as much as possible.
  • Animals and birds may have a severe reaction when exposed to paint odor.
    According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, if a pet comes in contact with these harmful chemicals, then it might cause grievous harm to their skin like irritation or even burns.
  • According to a study conducted in 2018, a paper was published in the journal known as "Neurology," which showed that people who have the genetic possibility of multiple sclerosis were seven times more likely to develop multiple sclerosis when exposed to organic solvent-based odor.
    Understanding the need to take precautions

    Paints have been part of our lives for a very long time, and most paint does not cause harm and are safe to use. However, it's always better to take precautions while painting, keeping the windows and doors open for proper ventilation. If possible, use an air purifier while painting. Also, keep unnecessary people at bay and take breaks regularly to avoid being exposed to the fumes for too long. Do not forget to read instructions on the label and wear gloves and masks, and once the painting work is completed, stay away from the room for at least 2 to 3 days so that no lingering fume is remaining.

Author's Bio: 

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