How to Avoid Those Toxic Paint Fumes

Date: 04.11.2014

Renovating or painting your home can be an exciting experience, but have you ever considered the dangers behind simply repainting your living room? Most paints contain Volatile Organic Compounds, also known as VOCs, which evaporate as the paint dries afterwards. VOCs are added to the paint or lacquer typically to act as solvents and can have serious impacts on human health.  Oil-based paints are worse than water-based paints, but ordinary water based paints can still bel an issue.

Health implications for VOC exposure depend upon the type of compound, its concentration and your length of exposure to it, and can result in the following:

  • Nose, eye and throat irritation
  • Headaches
  • Loss of coordination
  • Nausea
  • Kidney and liver damage
  • Damage to the central nervous system
  • Immune system damage

Some VOCS are known carcinogens, meaning that inhaling them is likely to increase your risk of cancer.

Whilst there are a range of serious health conditions that can result from exposure to paints (being a painter is a UN recognised hazardous occupation known as 'Painter's Syndrome') , there are several alternative products on the market which are low VOC and provide safe alternatives. For those who wish to further reduce the presence of VOCs and other toxins in paints you purchase refer to Ecospecifier ( Some examples of low VOC paints include:


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