Painting Safety

It's Just Paint, Isn't It?

One would think that painting is basic stuff and common sense would rule during the process. However, that may not necessarily be the case and the proof is in the hospitalization of people who have inhaled noxious fumes while painting. Susceptibility to paint chemicals and fumes vary, as do the kinds of fumes emitted from paints. That is why it is prudent to be aware of healthy painting practices.

There are some basic guidelines for painting in general, and specific guidelines for specialized types of painting-such as industrial work. Unless you are going to be doing some painting for the military or a large industrial project, the recommendations set out here apply to interior paint jobs.

Potential Hazard In A Can

There are risks inherent in some paints and the chemicals that evaporate into the air. The potential for a negative reaction is present. Some of the immediate symptoms of a reaction to paint fumes include eye and throat irritation, coughing due to lung irritation, vision problems, and headaches. Professional painters who have had extensive exposure over a long time may suffer nerve damage and damage to their liver and kidneys. Young children and pregnant women can be extremely susceptible to toxic fumes, so it is prudent they remain out of the area until all of the paint fumes have cleared.

Suggestions From The Government

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there are a few steps that are suggested in order to ensure the painting project not only looks great, but that it does not cause harm to anyone in the house or apartment.

First, paint selection is critical. Only use paints that are recommended for indoor use. Do not use exterior paints inside. The least noxious paint for indoors is water based latex. There are oil-based paints that are designed for indoor use, called alkyd paints, which require more stringent safety precautions than latex.

Read the label of the paint to find out what is in it and be sure to follow the instructions and safety precautions that are set out on the label. Hazards vary from product to product, so don't assume you know how to use the paint.

Keep The Air Flowing-For A Few Days

Fresh airflow is necessary wherever you are painting. Open windows, doors, and vents. Make sure there is adequate cross-ventilation and use a fan blowing out from a window to help draw fumes away from the inside. Just be sure you do not have the fan pointed into someone else's space.

The best time to paint is when there are no weather issues to deal with-such as rain, snow, or cold. Pick a pleasant day so that having the house open will not be a problem. Once the job is finished, keep the space open, and well ventilated until the paint is thoroughly dry. Sometimes it can take days for the solvents or oils to clear completely from the house or apartment, so the "rule of thumb" is to continue ventilation for two or three days.

Gasoline Is For Cars, Not Paint Brushes

Clean up according to the directions on the paint. If the paint is latex, cleanup can be done with soap and water. However, if the paint is alkyd, then specific products are necessary. Never use gasoline to clean brushes. If you are using a flammable product designed to clean alkyd paints, be sure there is nothing that can ignite around the clean up area.