How To Eliminate Paint Fumes (Side Effects & Health Hazards)
If you do any sort of industrial painting, you will be exposed to paint fumes. In fact, most people have been exposed to paint fumes at some point in their lives.
A lot of progress has been made since the days of lead-containing paints. Paints made today are much safer and are used with the health of the worker and the consumer in mind. But paint fumes are still to be avoided.
So what are paint fumes, what’s in them, what are the side effects of paint fume exposure, and what can you do to eliminate them?
What Are Paint Fumes?
Paint fumes are emitted from paint into the air as paint dries. If you’ve ever smelled “that paint smell”, you’re breathing in paint fumes.
Not all types of paints are created equal, though. Water-based paints and acrylics do not produce dangerous fumes that cause health problems. However, oil-based paints which are most commonly used in manufacturing do produce dangerous fumes.
Paint fumes from oil-based paints are full of different solvents that contain volatile organic compounds. Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs for short, are compounds that evaporate into the air when released. These compounds are dangerous to human health.
Common VOCs include benzene, acetone, formaldehyde, toluene, xylene, ethylene glycol, and methylene chloride. Not all VOCs are dangerous in the same amounts. For example, alcohol is a VOC, but it’s not as dangerous as acetone.
What Are The Side Effects of Paint Fumes?
According to the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in paint fumes can lead to several different problems.
Short term exposure to VOCs can include irritation, headaches, dizziness, visual impairment, and temporary loss of memory. Some of these can be more severe than others.
Sometimes, workers may be exposed to VOCs for longer periods of time. Long-term exposure can cause much more serious problems, such as fatigue, loss of motor coordination, vertigo, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. The most serious issues that long-term exposure can cause are organ damage (mainly to the liver and kidneys) and nerve damage. Some VOCs have been shown to be carcinogens or cancer-causing materials.
How Do You Eliminate Paint Fumes?
Most paints used to paint home interiors are mostly harmless, although they can leave a smell. However, oil-based primers and paints may be used particularly for wood finishes.
To get rid of paint fumes in your home, take these steps.
Open the windows. You don’t want to be breathing those fumes.
Use electric fans. Fans won’t get rid of VOCs, but it will allow them to be released out of the home. Run the ceiling fans to improve air circulation. Place your electric fans near windows to help blow the fumes out.
Use an air purifier. An air purifier is a great option to eliminate paint fumes.
This isn’t sufficient for industrial applications, though. Fume extraction systems are excellent for industrial painting applications that use oil-based paints. These systems work by taking the fumes out of the work area and cleansing them of all VOCs and other nasty chemicals.
If you need a fume extractor for your workshop, check out our page on fume extraction for VOCs, gases vapor & odor control!