How Long Are Paint Fumes Harmful?

Are you going to paint or repaint your house and worried about the health issues that may cause due to the paint? You have also a question that how long are paint fumes harmful.

Paint fumes are not completely safe for our health. To ensure the environment is safe for your health, you should wait for at least 72 hours because paint fumes are harmful for almost 3-4 days.

how long are paint fumes harmful
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch

Paint fume is the evaporated thing as the paint dries. It contains harmful VOCs (Volatile Organic Compound) that can cause many issues as it gets into our body while breathing.

Many are concerned about the health problems caused by paint fumes as it is too detrimental. A number of grievous diseases are likely to attack a person who stays in a newly painted room or is exposed to paint fumes as it contains a few toxic chemical elements.

So, you are supposed to take some required steps to avoid these consequences of paint fumes by leaving the room or house for at least 3 days and having a proper ventilation system in the room as well.

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What Causes Paint Fumes?

Paint fume initially causes breathing irritation, headache, irritation in the eyes, throat, and nose, dizziness, nausea, etc. and could result in greater problems related to the nervous or circulatory system, ear, kidney, and liver.

Some research even shows that women who get exposed to fresh paint fumes for a long time have a higher possibility of an autistic child accouchement. Though some specialists do not fully agree with this statement, a clear consensus is paint fumes are very harmful to pregnant women. So, if you have a pregnant woman in your family, you should not paint your house. Should you?

The allergy patients may suffer due to paint fumes too. Their allergic problem gets triggered as they get into a freshly painted room.

Children are also at higher risk of getting affected by its impact. Higher levels of paint fume in their room may cause rhinitis, asthma, and eczema.

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Symptoms of Inhaling Paint Fumes

If you somehow get in touch with paint fumes, you may feel some problems and it is a sign that the fume is causing harm to your body. To identify the presence of it in your body, learn the symptoms you will have after you inhale paint fumes.

  • You may be feeling upset in your stomach.
  • You may feel like vomiting also.
  • Irritation on your skin, eyes, nose, or throat may start.
  • Dire headache.
  • Feeling lightheadedness or dizziness.
  • Nausea.
  • Breathing problem.

These symptoms may arise as soon as you inhale paint fume or it may take a few hours to start. But as soon as any of these happens, take rational steps to avoid worse consequences.

As paint fumes contain poisonous substances, worse situations could arise. In that case, you should immediately go to the hospital.

What to Do after Inhaling Paint Fumes?

So, if you inhale paint fume and you are having problems due to it, then follow the following steps to prevent any short or long-term effects.

  • If you are the painter, quit painting immediately.
  • Quickly go to an open area and exhale in the open air. Otherwise, lie down under a ceiling fan.
  • Loosen your clothes to breathe easily.
  • Have some milk or pure water.
  • Call your nearby poison control center if its toxic substances affect you.

Take rest until you feel okay.

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How Long Are Paint Fumes Harmful?

Scientists have seen that it takes almost a year for paint fumes to get completely faded away, but it is harmful mostly for the first 2-3 days.

After painting your house, you are normally so keen to enter into your newly painted rooms, but considering the bad effects of paint fumes, you should resist your enthusiasm.

Paints can enter your body when you touch them. After that, it gets absorbed in your blood and accumulates in your brain or any other organs and may cause an organ damage. Researchers say that normal VOCs can stay in your body for more than 3 months!

Especially, children, pregnant women, and old members of your house should get more concerned regarding the harms of paint fume because they are the most vulnerable in this case.

How Long Should I Ventilate a Room after Painting?

As the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states,it is safe to ventilate a room after painting for 3 days. After 3 days, no more ventilation is necessary.

For ventilation, you can use handy ventilating tools and equipment. You can use box fans for it if you have no window in that room. Face the fan towards the door so that it could filter out the stagnant air of the room.

While painting the kitchen, use ducted rangehood fans that will filter the room’s air.

What Happens If You Sleep in a Freshly Painted Room?

If you sleep in a freshly painted room within first 3 days, you may feel problems in breathing when you wake up. Because, while sleeping, you are inhaling air that contains paint fumes.

But if it is more than 3 days since you have painted the room, then it is okay to sleep in the room. But still, to avoid health hazards, make sure the room is properly ventilated and turn the fan on for more safety because toxic elements are released from fresh paint for up to 2 weeks.

Before that, you should avoid the room even for staying.

What Happens If You Inhale Paint Fumes for too Long?

You may get affected by long-lasting diseases if you inhale paint fumes for too long.

Certain types of cancers are probably to originate as a consequence of it. Asthma, allergies, and respiratory diseases are likely to get intensified due to that.

As I have previously said, children may be suffering from autism if their mother inhales paint fumes for too long during pregnancy.

Inhaling paint fume for too long can lead to organ damage also!

How Long Do the Effects of Paint Fumes Last?

The effect of paint fume lasts for almost a year but it does not stay as intense as it is during the first 72 hours after painting. Moreover, compounds of paint fumes that have entered into a human body can stay for up to 3 months!

Paint fume vaporizes as the paint dries and accommodates very harmful organic compounds.

Will an Air Purifier Help with Paint Fumes?

No, an air purifier is not great equipment for removing paint fume from a newly painted room as it will not eliminate VOCs in the air. It removes only the dust and larger particles in the air but not the chemical compounds which are too small to be removed by it.

A highly powerful air purifier can put out the contaminated air from the room to a certain extent and make it safer for staying into.

But it does not solve the problem completely. It is equally as useful as just opening the window and letting the breeze go through the room to lessen the concentration of VOCs.

However, it will cost some electricity bills additionally. It is not applicable if you do not have electricity.

This video can help you:

Safety Tips against Paint Fumes

Paint fumes are dangerous for our health. So, we need to deal with it in such a way that it may not cause any harm to us. In order to do that, follow these tips:

  • Do not keep paint in your house because it may vaporize its fume. So, if you have a bucket of old or new paint in your house, then put it outside and close it tightly.
  • Try to paint your house in dry seasons.
  • Never paint a room that is not well-ventilated. Make sure that the room has enough space for air movement.
  • Read the warnings written on the label of the paint thoroughly and follow all the instructions.
  • While painting, open the windows and turn on the fan. The more the air circulation is, the more the paint fume will fade away.
  • Most importantly, use paint that contains fewer VOC substances. Paint manufacturing companies are now producing Low-VOC and No-VOC paints. Buy them as they are not more costly than traditional paints.
  • Take breaks oftentimes while painting.

Safety measurements always eliminate unwholesome possibilities!

Final Thoughts

Painting makes your house colorful, but paint fume may turn that color into dismay!

So, you should be aware of the health hazards it causes and try to avoid staying in the room for no less than 3 days after painting.

About the Author

Ivan McCloud