Ways Indoor Paints Affect Your IAQ

painting IAQ concernsIn addition to adding a new look and style to your home’s interior, a fresh coat of paint can also include certain IAQ concerns. Short for “indoor air quality,” healthy IAQ can be compromised by the introduction of  substances that vaporize or evaporate into the air. Under certain circumstances, painting is an activity that may raise IAQ concerns.

What’s the Hazard?

The primary issues in indoor paint are volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as common vapors of formaldehyde, benzene and ethanol. Health concerns include allergic responses in susceptible persons during short-term exposure as well as potentially more serious chronic illness if exposure occurs over a longer term.

Where and When is it Hazardous?

VOCs released by wet paint may concentrate in enclosed indoor environments.  Trace levels of VOCs may also continue to out-gas from painted surfaces during an extended time frame—sometimes even months after the paint dries.

How to Reduce IAQ Concerns

When painting in the indoor environment, a number of steps can be taken to reduce both short-term and long-term IAQ concerns.

  • Choose a low-VOC paint. Technically, there are no zero-VOC paints. However, most major paint manufacturers have substantially reduced concentration of VOCs in their formulas to meet EPA-recommended standards. This is particularly true in quality latex interior paints most of which now contain only minute amounts of volatile organic compounds. Cheap “no-name” paint brands typically contain higher levels of VOCs
  • Ventilate adequately.  Open windows and utilize fans to keep indoor air moving during the painting process, as well as afterwards while the paint dries.
  • Wear a mask if necessary. If you’re using paints such as enamel that typically contain higher levels of VOCs, you may want to invest in a respirator mask designed for painting. Most incorporate disposable filter cartridges so they can be re-used in the future.
  • Change the HVAC air filter.  Install a fresh filter before major painting and replace it a few days afterwards.

Ask the experts at Paitson Bros. about minimizing IAQ concerns in your home. In the Wabash Valley, we’ve been your source for trusted indoor air quality advice since 1922.

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