What Are The Long Term Effects Of Exposure To Harmful Paint Fumes?

The long-term exposure to dangerous paint fumes can seriously and adversely affect your body.

Whether through employment, home remodeling, or huffing fumes to get high, a large majority of the population has been exposed to hazardous paint fumes throughout their lifetime. Both short and long term exposure to these fumes can and will most likely affect you in a variety of ways, which are more serious than often expected. This is not just a headache or a little nausea. Some studies have suggested that excessive exposure to paint fumes may increase the rate of miscarriage, as well as increasing the risk of childhood asthma. Those who get high huffing would do well to know that the American Academy of Pediatrics says that huffing can lead to instant cardiac arrhythmia or sudden sniffing death syndrome.

So why is it that paint fumes are so bad for you? As you can probably guess, it is all related to what is in the paint itself. Paint contains a large number of VOC's or volatile organic compounds, which are the chemicals that we as humans are allergic to. The amount of VOC's in paint rise as the paint gets more vibrant in color. There are also more VOC's in oil-based paint than there is in latex or water based paint. Lead based paint, which was popular in the 1950's, has the most VOC's of any paint.

The VOC's in paint can affect you in a number of ways. Immediately after inhaling them, an individual may experience headaches, breathing problems, nausea, dizziness, and a burning of the eyes. Direct contact with them, especially in paint thinner may cause burning and cracking of the skin.If you start to have these symptoms and you are around paint or paint thinner, get out into the fresh air, wash up and try to avoid the area until a bit drier and safer, as VOC's do dissipate as they dry.


The long-term effects of exposure to and inhalation of harmful paint fumes can be extremely severe. You may experience permanent brain damage, including loss of memory, confusion, seizures, and a general decrease in general mental faculties. Chronic exposure to paint, especially when huffing or through prolonged and most likely direct contact with the VOC's in paint and paint thinner can lead to sever kidney and liver damage. These are the main organs responsible foe detoxification and elimination of toxic chemicals from the body. You may also experience major respiratory problems, as the chemicals can damage the fragile lining of the lungs.

This does not mean that you can never paint another room again; it simply means that you should take the proper precautions when painting. As previously mentioned, the VOC's in paint lessen as paint dries because they evaporate, so make sure that you paint in a well ventilated area. If you are in an area where this is not possible, use a respirator.Remember to always store paint away from your living space in a well-sealed container. Whenever possible, use water soluble paint so you can avoid using paint thinner, which has a higher amount of VOC's than just paint. And of course, never huff.

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