Health Risks of DIY Painting


Virtually every home has paint in it, and most people have done a DIY painting project at some time or other. The problem with that is that most people don’t even think about the health risks involved. Paint is made up of chemicals, and that means, like every other chemically based product out there, paint comes with certain health hazards. No one likes to think about the risks because doing your own residential painting project can have its advantages. Of course, saving money is the biggest reason most people undertake DIY interior painting. However, sometimes it’s just not worth the risk to save money if your health is put at risk. In fact, kitchen painting, bedroom painting, and all other interior painting projects can come with more risks to health than exterior painting, simply because paint fumes don’t have enough air to distribute their particles and dissipate before they cause harm. Add to that the fact that many novice painters sometimes don’t know proper ventilation or protective techniques, and you’ve got a disaster waiting to happen. Here are the most common health risks of DIY painting projects to consider before embarking on your next interior painting project.

There are two main types of paint, solvent-based and water-based. Water-based paints don’t pose a lot of the health risks that solvent-based paints do. They don’t release the same amount of dangerous particles into the air that can cause the health risks such as breathing difficulties, dizziness, headaches, and childhood behavioral problems that solvent-based paints can cause. However, water-based paints have never been proven to be risk-free, especially since they still contain some chemicals. Additionally, water-based paints don’t stand up nearly as well as solvent-based paints do, making them a less attractive choice when it comes to their ability to endure everyday wear, tear, and messes. Solvent-based paints pose myriad health hazards, but they stand up better, meaning they are used perhaps more often than they should be. Exposure to their volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can cause myriad health problems, including damage to the respiratory tract from inhaling vapors, skin problems due to unprotected contact, and threats to the digestive system if accidentally swallowed. Make no mistake about it, though; water-based paints can also pose health risks if swallowed. These are the reasons why it’s vital that those attempting DIY painting projects learn the proper storage and disposal of all types of paints (not just solvent-based paints), as well as the proper usage and protection to skin, home, and air when using paints.

Spray paints, too, come with some serious potential health risks. In fact, inhaling some spray paints can even be fatal. Spray paints are aerosol paints that can cause serious health complications if inhaled. If you’re using spray paint in a DIY painting project, it’s vital that you know how to use personal protective equipment and proper ventilation techniques in order to minimize the risks of coming into contact with spray paint’s potential threats. Some of the potential health hazards of a DIY spray-painting project include slurred speech, nausea, lack of appetite, disorientation, and even hallucinations. Some of the long-term threats to health caused by spray paints used in interior painting projects can include central nervous system damage, tremors, and muscle spasms. Other irreversible effects can include hearing loss and peripheral neuropathy, which is characterized by pain, numbness, and tingling in hands and/or feet. Additionally, inhaling spray paint, especially if you’re painting it in an enclosed area that does not contain proper ventilation, can cause damage to vital organs such as the heart, liver, kidneys, and lungs. This damage may even be permanent. Occasionally, a health hazard known as ‘sudden sniffing death’ can occur, even from inhaling spray paint just a single time. This often happens due to intentional sniffing of spray paint; however, it has been known to occur when people performing interior painting projects have not properly protected themselves by ensuring that proper ventilation techniques are observed.

Many people think that just because paint no longer contains lead there are no health risks involved in a DIY painting project. If that were only the case. The truth is that because paints are made from chemicals, there are dangers to human and pet health involved. The risks can be minimized with personal protective equipment and proper ventilation. Of course, sometimes it’s all about how much you know and how much experience you have. If you’re considering starting an interior painting project, contact a residential painter in Summit to learn more about paint hazards and health risks.

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