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A new paint job within your home may cause some anxieties for people with allergies, asthma, or other situations that make you more sensitive to fumes from residential painting. While the painting industry much higher environmental and health standards than we saw in the past, the smell of wet paint still leads us to ask: what exactly are those fumes from wet paint, and are they dangerous?
The answer is: usually, no.
Residential interior paints are made up of three major elements: pigment, which is your colour, binders that make the paint colour stick, and solvents which make it possible for the paint to be spread over a surface such as walls. Different solvents within the paint have different scents, and some can be more offensive than others. As paint dries, a chemical reaction occurs as the liquid paint turns into a solid. In that process, fumes are released and evaporate rapidly.
Unlike the old days of lead-based paints, all three major components that make up your interior paint undergo extensive health and safety testing before being made available to the public. That means that the wide range of readily available paints on the market have been deemed safe for most individuals when used correctly in a well-ventilated area. While that fresh paint smell may bother some people, the air quality in a room has returned to normal by the time the paint is dry.
Even though these fumes have dissipated, trace amounts of interior paint fumes may trigger reactions even after the pain has dried in some fume-sensitive people.
When you’re looking for asthma and allergy friendly alternatives, you’ll find a wide range of Low-VOC and No VOC paints available. Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs, are basically all things both man-made and natural that product an odour, ranging from a whiff of freshly cut grass to paint fumes – all of these are considered VOCs. Some man-made VOCs are more dangerous however, and are regulated by laws governing manufacturing and consumer quality standards.
That paint smell is mostly the result of the solvent. In Low and No VOC paints, water-based solvents are used instead of traditional oil-based solvents which cuts down on the chemicals and the smell as a result. The paint’s won’t be completely odourless in most cases as binders can still carry a mild fragrance, and some chemicals may be added in order to make the paint behave more like paint than water. Overall, the smell will be significantly milder and dissipate much faster with fewer fumes as the pain dries.
The downside to Low and No VOC paints is that they usually come with a higher price tag and don’t offer the same coverage as regular paints, so more coats may be required to get the same finish.