A fresh coat of paint can be just the thing to liven up a room, and is often a quick, and easy, way of making a change in your home or business. If you live in a century home and are considering repainting, there are a few key things to keep in mind to make sure you maintain a high standard of indoor air quality both before, during, and after painting.
Lead Paint Can Cause Serious Health Effects
While it was banned in the late 1970s, if you live in a home built before then, there’s a high chance your indoor air quality could be affected by lead paint. Added to paint to speed up drying and increase durability, lead paint can be a serious indoor air quality concern if it is chipped or peeling. Lead is a known toxin that, once ingested or inhaled, is distributed in the body to the brain, liver, bones, and kidneys. It can have serious, lifelong neurological effects on children, and there is no level of exposure that is considered safe.
Your indoor air quality and health can begin to be polluted by lead paint when it ages and begins to chip or crack. Before sanding or scraping (and releasing those fine particles into your indoor air quality) you should have old paint in your home tested for lead. As long as your paint is not disturbed it shouldn’t affect your indoor air quality, and it can be painted over or sealed to help prevent health risks.
If you need to remove lead paint, it’s important to have a professional assess the situation and to take appropriate health and safety precautions to prevent airborne lead dust from affecting your indoor air quality. Some common ways of keeping your indoor air quality free of airborne contaminants include: sealing the working area with plastic and tape, covering the floor or heavy furniture with heavy plastic, and removing soft textiles, like drapes or rugs.
While repainting, it’s also important to repair any underlying damage or problems that you discover. Peeling paint may be both lead based and be caused by another issue that could be affecting your indoor air quality, like mold. Simply painting over it will not stop mold from becoming a problem in your home or with your indoor air quality – it need to be removed and the source of any moisture or bacteria removed before it spreads to other part of your home.
Indoor air quality while painting can also pose its own troubles and health concerns. Thankfully, lead is no longer part of contemporary paint, but it can still have harmful Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs, that can affect your indoor air quality and health. VOCs are released into your indoor air quality as the paint dries, and can cause headaches, irritation, and even cancer. While its long-term effects are unknown, many people have severe reactions to VOCs that are in their indoor air quality, and proper precautions should be taken to prevent adverse health effects.
Ventilating and sealing off rooms where paint is being applied or is drying can have a positive effect on the indoor air quality of the rest of your home, and low-VOC paints are now easy to find at hardware and home improvement stores. If you have a concern about your materials or how they affect your indoor air quality, consulting a professional or having your home tested is an easy way of improving your indoor air quality and making sure what you’re bringing in isn’t having an adverse effect.