Paint can be a quick and inexpensive way to brighten up a room and give it a new look, but fresh paint can also be a source of toxic chemical exposure. This is why it is important to learn how to get rid of paint smell in a safe and effective manner. With new formulations and improved air purification technologies, it’s possible to greatly reduce the toxic exposure from interior painting; in fact, keep reading for our top tips to get rid of paint smell asap!
Is paint toxic?
Paint is made up of the material that remains on the wall after it dries, and also a solvent that makes the material liquid so it can be applied to the wall with a brush or sprayer. It’s the solvent that has “that paint smell.” As the solvent evaporates, the smell becomes less and less, until it disappears completely when the paint is fully “cured.” Until it’s cured—which can take from days to months depending on the type—it is slowly releasing fumes of solvent.
“Most paints contain chemicals that evaporate in the air. The ability of these chemicals to cause health effects varies greatly.”
Eye and throat or lung irritation, headaches, dizziness, and vision problems are among the immediate symptoms that some people have experienced soon after exposure to some chemicals. If professional painters who are exposed to high levels of vapors for long periods of time, some chemicals in paints have damaged the nervous system, liver, and kidneys. Some chemicals cause cancer or reproductive and developmental effects in laboratory animals. To understand the safest way to remove toxic paint fumes, get rid of paint smell, and more regarding paint odor eliminators, first, you must know the science behind VOCs and how dangerous they can be to your health.
How to get rid of paint smell
To get rid of the paint smell, it is helpful to understand what VOCs are. The toxicity is indicated by the measurement of the “fumes” that come off of fresh paint, known collectively as “VOCs” (Volatile Organic Chemicals). These are gasses that are released into the air as the paint dries.
The US EPA has established an upper limit for VOCs in the paint at 250 grams per liter (g/l) for flat finishes and 380 g/l for other finishes. California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District has a lower VOC upper limit of 50 g/l for all finishes
You can compare VOC levels by finding the level of VOC content on the label. If it’s not on the label, VOC content should be on the Safety Data Sheet (SDS), available online, or from the manufacturer. Eliminating paint odors and VOCs and getting rid of paint smell is all in the same. Hopefully, now you understand what VOCs are and what role they play in the actual paint odor!
The different types of paint
The degree of harm of paint depends on the amount of VOCs present. VOC levels can be extremely high or eliminated altogether, simply by choosing the right one.
The paints with the highest VOC levels are oil-based ones (also called solvent-based or alkyd paint). They use mineral spirits or other petroleum distillates as a base to carry the paint solids. In the past, oil-based paints were the most commonly used ones, but today their sale is limited in some areas. While oil-based ones give a beautiful and durable finish, they are slow to dry and can emit VOCs for many months, making it harder to get rid of paint smell!
Wate-based “latex” paints
Water-based “latex” paints use water in place of a petroleum solvent, dramatically reducing the amount of VOCs. Latex paints are actually not latex at all. Rather they are made from acrylic resins and various types of vinyl.
Low-VOC paints are often made mostly of acrylic – they are some of the best options on the market; forget worrying about how to get rid of paint smells if you choose this option!
More and more water-based paints are now “zero-VOC”. The thing to watch out for about zero-VOC paints is that when you add standard pigment at the point of sale, the VOC level can climb as high as 150 g/l. Be sure to choose a brand that uses zero-VOC pigments in their zero-VOC paints. With this option, you won’t have to worry as much about paint toxicity or how to get rid of paint smell, to begin with!
There are also all-natural plant-based paints made from renewable materials such as plant oils and resins. Though natural, some ingredients used in these paints can have odors just as strong, or even stronger than oil-based paints. And they may take longer to cure.
Milk and clay paints
The best choice for paint is milk paint and clay paint, which are colored with natural earth pigments. These have no VOCs and are completely nontoxic. These are clearly a great choice and don’t leave you worried about researching a paint odor eliminator. They are also beautiful, with soft finishes and muted colors. In addition to VOCs, some may contain various toxic additives, including preservatives and mildew inhibitors.
Myths about getting rid of paint smell and fumes
Here are some things not to do:
• DO NOT use a floor fan or an air filter from a big box store. These do not remove VOCs at all. Such air filters remove only particles.
• DO NOT mix baking soda in with your mixture to reduce odor. This does not work and reduces the performance of the paint.
• DO NOT put out bowls of vinegar. This may lessen odors but does not remove VOCs
• DO NOT put plants around to room to eliminate paint fumes. There are a number of plants that do remove toxins from the air and then produce fresh air. While plants can eliminate a small amount of VOCs, they are not adequate to handle the VOCs from painting a room. You would need hundreds of plants.
How to remove paint fumes safely
After you’ve painted, use an air purifier to remove any VOCs that are outgassing as the paint continues to dry and cure. But you need to make sure that you use an air filter that will remove the gaseous VOCs. Most air filters on the market today remove only particles from the air.
The EnviroKlenz Air System is your solution to removing VOCs, chemical pollutants from your indoor environment, making it a solid paint odor eliminator and a great way to get rid of paint smell and toxics. With the use of a hospital-grade HEPA filter and an effective earth mineral technology air cartridge, this two-stage filtration is perfect to place in your indoor space to mitigate potential hazards to your health. Whether you have chemical sensitivities, allergies, are just looking to improve your indoor air quality, or are looking for a paint odor eliminator, the EnviroKlenz Air System is your answer!
- Simple and Easy to Set-Up, with Minimal Maintenance
- Replace Air Cartridge every 4 to 6 Months
- HEPA Filter Replaced Every Two Years
- Quiet Operation, 4-Speed Motor
- No Chemical Odors Released!
EnviroKlenz® Medical Disclaimer:
“Any information that is provided on this website is not for the use by any commercial or personal entity without expressed written consent of the blog author. The material and statements illustrated within this blog are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases or medical conditions. Nor does the author in any way guarantee or validate the validity, totality, or efficacy of any claims and will therefore not be held responsible for the content of any claims. Always consult your medical physician for any specific medical advice or recommendations.”