Few people might think of potential safety hazards when planning to paint the interiors of their homes.
Though every home improvement project can lead to injury if safety measures are not taken seriously, painting is widely considered a project where do-it-yourselfers are at minimal risk of injury. But in addition to the injury risks associated with climbing up and down ladders to paint ceilings or out-of-reach corners, there are some health and safety concerns painters should consider before beginning their projects.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the majority of paints contain chemicals that evaporate in the air, and these chemicals can adversely affect human health. Problems associated with chemicals found in some paints include eye and throat or lung irritation, headaches, dizziness and vision trouble. Professional painters exposed to paint vapors over long periods of time can develop problems with their nervous systems, liver and kidneys, and some chemicals found in paint have been linked to elevated cancer risk.
Though painting is often an enjoyable home improvement project, painters still must take the following precautions to ensure their safety when painting the interior of their homes.
• Read product labels carefully. Paints vary considerably with regard to how hazardous they can potentially be, so it's best to read paint can labels thoroughly regardless of how experienced you are at painting. Labels provide safety instructions specific to that particular paint, including suggestions to reduce hazards and advice on what to do should users develop any adverse health effects.
It also helps to reread labels once the painting project has been completed. Labels often include instructions on how to clean or discard products and tools after use, as well as suggestions on where to store paints or other products used during the project that may be flammable.
• Paint during the right time of year. Exposure to chemicals found in paint can be reduced considerably if you paint during the right time of year. Spring and fall make ideal seasons to paint, as the weather outside during these seasons is typically pleasant, allowing painters to open all of the windows without making conditions inside the home unfavorable.
• Open all of the windows and doors. While it's especially important to open all of the windows and the door in the room where you will be painting, it's even better to open as many windows and doors throughout the home, making sure to push curtains and blinds back to let the fresh air pour in. Keeping all windows and doors (use screen doors if you are worried about animals or insects entering the home) open promotes ventilation throughout the home, allowing for constant airflow that will usher any potentially harmful chemicals out of your home. If necessary, place a box fan within a window frame to promote cross-ventilation. Never turn on the air conditioner as a substitute for fans and open windows, as that will not be pushing any air out of the home.
• Seal paint cans tightly once the project has been completed. At the end of the project, you may or may not have leftover paint. If you have a small amount of paint leftover that you do not intend to keep, contact your local government to determine the best way to dispose of the paint. You also can do this if you have empty paint cans but are uncertain if they can be discarded with normal household trash and recycling. If you have a substantial amount of paint left, be sure the lid is closed as tightly as possible, as vapors can leak through poorly sealed containers, putting the health of residents at risk. Once again, read the label to determine the best place to store leftover paint.
Painting is widely considered a fun home improvement project. But if certain safety measures are not taken when painting the interior of a home, these projects can put the health of residents at risk.