Is Interior Painting Harmful to Your Health?

Maybe you bought your first house and want to add your personal touch by painting every room before the big move, or maybe your old digs are just ready for an update. (You can only stare at the same mark on the wall from when you last rearranged the furniture for so long, after all.) You spend days, weeks—months, even—contemplating everything from how the light hits each wall at a certain time of day, to whether that shade of beige will clash with your cat. You consider the size of the room and the cost of the supplies (even factoring in the value of having HandyCrew Services do the interior painting for you), and finally, after much deliberation, you pick the perfect paint.

But did you stop to factor your own health into the equation?

If you’ve undertaken an interior painting job before, you know that the satisfaction of finishing the job is almost always curbed by an overwhelming urge to leave the room as quickly as possible to escape the fumes. What you may not know is that those fumes contain volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, that are hazardous when inhaled.

VOCs are, as the name suggests, a class of organic compounds that are emitted as gases from a variety of solids and liquids—many of which are households products: certain cleaning supplies, glues, permanent markers, paints, and paints strippers, to name a few. Studies have found that levels of VOCs are typically 2 to 5 times higher indoors than outdoors, and associated health effects, which include headaches; nausea; eye, nose, and throat irritation; loss of coordination; and even cancer, depend on the length and level of the exposure. To that end, VOCs do not stop being emitted once the smell goes away. The gases can continue to leak from stored leftover paint as well as from walls for months, leaving you at risk long after the last coat has dried.

Fortunately, low- and no-VOC paint is now more readily available and high-performing than ever. Technology has advanced to allow for eco-friendly paints that are as durable, spreadable, and vibrant as their toxic counterparts, which means that you can avoid all of the health detriments without sacrificing either quality or style. So next time you decide to give an old wall a new look, grab a no-VOC paint first—your wellbeing will thank you.

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