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Indoor Painting Safety

Most of us have painted a room in our home or helped a friend paint theirs. Apply the paint to the wall – what could be simpler or more straightforward? The degree of difficulty appears insignificant. Our biggest concern would seem to be spills and drips.

But as with DNA research and our opinions about asbestos and sugar, science has caught up and enhanced our understanding. Once upon a time, lead paint was a widely used standard in the home building industry. Since lead paint was banned in 1978, we can feel more comfortable with the safety levels of the alternatives.

While paint must still be applied manually, the types of paint available and their application methods have changed. The first step is to plan for safe, healthy painting. While lead is no longer used in paint we buy, many caustic chemicals are. Levels of toxicity vary from fumes that cause nausea and headaches to those that cause long-term damage to the central nervous system or asphyxiation. The unpleasant odor referred to as “fumes” contain harmful elements such as solvent vapors that are emitted from the time the paint can is opened and remain a concern for several days after the paint is dry and a detectable smell is gone. Therefore, look out for the chemical make-up of your paint. Choose one with low or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Products that are friendlier to the environment are safer for you as well.

The next acquisition should be a proper respirator or mask. DO NOT use the white paper masks commonly found at home improvement centers. They have been proven to be more harmful than using no mask at all. Certified painting contractors trained in asbestos removal understand that a UL-tested face mask or respirator more reliably prevents the inhalation of foreign substances. Small paper masks with the rubber band strap can actually trap airborne substances, causing you to breathe in more concentrated doses.

Overhead work and spray applications require the use of airtight goggles, not safety glasses. The difference is that goggles keep fumes, spray, and drips out by sealing to your face. Safety glasses deflect some hard objects as well, but not vapors or fine dust. Room ventilation during and after painting is necessary to eliminate immediate and long-term negative impact on humans and pets.

The time of year to paint is fairly important as well. Choosing to paint in spring or fall when mild temperatures allow windows to remain open facilitates curing of the paint and dissipation of harmful fumes. As a general rule, the painted areas should remain unoccupied and well-ventilated for a minimum of 48 to 72 hours after completion.

When you assess the area in question early on, you will determine the materials needed, such as repair materials, ladders, scaffolding, or hand tools. The budget will be comprised of these materials, along with the cost of labor, paint, and clean up. All of these costs can easily be calculated by a professional. Get free quotes from several qualified painters today! And remember, safety and health should be your first step and your most serious consideration.

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