All about toxicity: health effects of paint fumes

All about toxicity: health effects of paint fumes

In general there are two ways in which we’re exposed to VOCs: through inhalation (breathing in fumes) and dermal contact (skin contact). Typically, exposure levels to VOCs in the air are well below established safety guidelines for both short and long term effects.

World Health Organization (WHO) – indoor air quality WHO has compared outdoor air pollution with health effects from indoor air pollution. The results show that there is no discernible difference between the disease risk of people living close to busy roads and those who live inside an old house. Neither is there a huge difference between homes built 30 years ago and modern ones. There is no doubt that smoking is bad for your health, but it’s worth noting that passive smoking has similar risks as ambient exposure to particulate matter outside in winter time! So what does this mean? Well, don’t be overly worried about living in an old house. Old houses are good for your health.

Researchers at Stanford University ( California ) found that there were higher incidences of cancer in young children exposed to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon compounds (PAHs) in their home environment than in people who did not live in an old house. However, when the same children grew up and moved out of the house into a new one, they no longer had increased levels of PAH exposure or cancer risk; i.e., once you’re past 2-3 years old, you don’t need to worry about living in an old house!

Rooms made from materials that emit VOCs are likely to smell until it’s aired out because these fumes evaporate quickly and disperse into the air. VOCs in paint, glue and varnish are typically not a problem as they evaporate very quickly (in minutes or hours; depending on concentration).

The worst culprits for VOC emissions from non-paint sources include: carpet, fabric deodorisers, sprays and general household cleaning products . These items can off-gas for days or weeks after application . The health effects of prolonged exposure to lower levels of these compounds are still being researched. So if you want to be safe in the meantime, just open the windows any time you use strong smelling cleaning agents. You’ll get fresh air both inside and out!

Worried about toxic paint fumes? At Ethereal Painters we use only the finest and cleanest paint. Call us today as 604-505-2745 for your free estimate. Or, just fill out this free estimate form and someone from our team will be in touch with you.