Are Paint Fumes Dangerous?

Paint fumes in new homes: are they dangerous? You read or hear about paint fumes almost every day – from stories of people who develop health problems after working with paints to news reports about research revealing possible links between paint fumes and serious medical conditions like asthma or cancer. But do these reports have any truth to them? Should you be worried about getting sick by simply living in a newly painted house?

When it comes to dealing with paint fumes in your new house, don’t panic. Yes, there is some evidence connecting house paints with respiratory conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). And yes, one study has even shown that people exposed to household paints were more likely to get cancer than those who weren’t – though the risks are still considered very low (each type of cancer found in the study only occurred once out of every thousand participants, and further research will be necessary before any firm conclusions about these links can be made).

But do you need to take special precautions if you’re moving into a newly painted place? Will living there give you cancer, or make your child become asthmatic? Here’s what you need to know about the dangers of paint fumes, so you can decide if special measures are needed.

The source of all those worries: VOCs

House paints contain a variety of different chemicals that give each one its own unique color and appearance – solvents, binders, water repellants, pigments and more. But if there’s any one ingredient in house paints that gives people the willies, it’s volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These chemicals evaporate at relatively low temperatures into the air around us. They can also escape from improperly ventilated buildings through cracks in doors or windows or floorboards.

When we breathe them in they go directly into our lungs where some toxic effects have been found by researchers.

But the good news is that VOCs aren’t present in every type of paint — just solvent-based house paints, which most people apply by sprayer or roller (check the label to find out whether yours contains solvents). And you can reduce levels further if you use a less toxic brand. Solvent-based paints are often considerably more effective at covering, but they’re also more expensive and can have stronger fumes than water-based ones. If money’s tight, consider buying the less toxic option instead.

Worried about breathing in toxic paint fumes? When you work with Ethereal Painters you can rest assured our paint is VOC-Free. Call us at 604-505-2745 for your free estimate. Or fill out this free estimate form and we’ll be in touch.