Painting of a new house or repainting of renovated one has been an age-long practice globally. This practice which is carried out in order to put an astonishing beauty to the house could also pose serious hazard to human with children and pregnant mothers being more vulnerable. Paints contain four classes of substances (additives, resins, solvents and pigments) which can enter the body by inhalation, absorption through the skin, ingestion, and through direct contact. Also painters run the risk of chemicals entering their bodies during mixing, application or clean ups.
One method of application that increases the possibility of inhalation is through painting a surface by spraying as the applicator is not only exposed to the highly concentration of solvents but also to the paint mist. Also long drying paints (Oil or petroleum based paints) pose higher risks as they ooze when still wet and diminishes when dry.
Pregnant mothers and children under the age of six are much more vulnerable to the hazards paint. This is because the chemicals attack and could destroy faster under-developed brains (tender brains) of children or fetus housed in the womb since they are at fragile stages. These chemicals used in producing paints do affect babies and the unborn ones by diffusing through their fragile systems and damage delicate organs in their bodies.
Some common areas attacked by these hazards include respiratory system, eyes, skin, mucous membrane, lungs (causing asthma and complicated cough). Others are fever, tightness of the chest, loss of appetite, insomnia, pains in the muscle, central nervous system disturbances, mental retardation (common in children), sterility, headache, and drowsiness.
What to do to reduce hazards of paint
1. When your skin has a contact with paint be it oil or water based wash thoroughly with lukewarm water and soap.
2. Painters and other personnel working with paints must ensure that the spray mist is not inhaled by wearing suitable protective coverings so that inhalation and contacts are avoided.
3. If you must have inside of your house painted, the best thing that you can do is to create situations inside your home that would promote a faster drying of the paint by fully ventilating the odors out of the house. In order to achieve this faster, it is better to paint your house during fall or winter when humidity is low. When humidity is low, dry air picks up humidity easier thus fast racking drying process of the paint.
4. If you must renovate your house, you must hire certified personnel in paint works especially if your house was built before 1978 when certain restrictions in paint application had not come into force.
5. While painting take fresh air at intervals to freshen up your lungs even though you have protective on.
6. Try to stop your child or children from playing close to painted surfaces to avoid ingestion and once spotted wash them with warm water and soap.
7. There are also new paint products today that do not contain much toxicity. While purchasing your paint seek the advice of your paint dealer in getting products that are less toxic. Again strictly follow manufacturer’s information on application to reduce risks of exposure.
8. Due to inhalation problem, it is best to avoid spray painting.
9. Paints that are meant for exterior use should not be used indoors.
10. You can turn on your fan or better open all windows to ventilate the painted room. Do not use air conditioner as it does not filter indoor air.
11. Always remember to keep pregnant women and young children far from newly painted rooms.
12. Keep paint cans tightly closed when not in use to avoid diffusion.
13. Take extra precautions if using oil or petroleum based paints as they produce vapors called volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. Exposures to vapors of these kinds of paints can lead to serious health implications such as central nervous disorder, liver and kidney disorder, respiratory danger to pregnant women and children including mental retardation. Paints that contain silica could possibly cause cancer on continuous exposure to them.
14. Because some of these paints also contain preservatives and pesticides in order to kill off mildew, children and pregnant women should strongly be disallowed to have direct contacts with painted surfaces for at least 2-3 days after full drying.