Paint fumes can make you feel sick, and being exposed to them for prolonged periods of time can cause serious health problems, such as liver or kidney damage, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The fumes are caused by VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, found in the paint. Oil-based and alcohol-based paints usually have higher VOC counts than water-based paint, which is obvious if you've ever had to use these strong-smelling paints. Fortunately, you can protect yourself from dangerous paint fumes with a little common sense and the right equipment.
Open windows if you are painting indoors to help ventilate the area and prevent the paint fumes from building.
Set up an exhaust fan to increase the room's ventilation. Try to place the fan in an open doorway or window so that it blows the fumes outdoors.
Wear a ventilation mask while you work to reduce your exposure to harmful paint fumes. You can find these masks in many paint or home improvement stores.
Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from paint fumes that can cause eye irritation.
- Keep young children out of the room while you are painting and until the paint is dry to avoid exposing them to harmful paint fumes.
- Leave the area and get some fresh air immediately if you start to feel dizzy, nauseated or develop a headache or blurred vision while painting.