A fresh coat of paint is a quick and inexpensive way to bring a change to your home’s interior. Before you begin your next home painting project, take some time to consider how you will protect yourself, your family, and your home’s air quality by taking a few simple steps.

Choosing Your Paint

Paint fumes aren’t just smelly, they are potentially harmful. Choose between a water-based (latex) or an oil-based (alkyd) interior paint. Latex paints emit fewer chemicals vapors. Choose water-based over oil-based paint whenever possible.

Paint Additives

Until 1978, lead was used in paint as a pigment and drying agent. Before painting, test all surfaces that may contain lead with a lead test kit. If the surface tests positive you need to hire a professional to remove the lead-based paint before proceeding. Also, do not use any paint produced before 1990, when mercury was added to paint to inhibit mildew.

What are VOCs?

Oil-based paints produce harmful breathable vapors called volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. VOCs can cause headaches, eye irritation, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue. Long-term exposure can lead to more serious health problems like central nervous system, liver, and kidney damage. Paints labeled “low,” “zero,” or “no” VOC are the safest. Paint labels stating “No Odor,” can still contain high levels of VOCs. Check the label carefully and select the least toxic, lowest VOC paint available.


Use protective gear such as gloves, goggles, and a respirator with the proper filter. Dust masks are not adequate. Try to schedule your painting for a dry period when windows can be left open for ventilation. Avoid painting when it’s breezy since airborne mildew spores can attach to the wet paint. Use window-mounted box fans (blowing out) to ventilate vapors from your work area. Be sure the fan is secure and cannot fall out of the window. Avoid electrical shock by turning the fan off and removing it from the window in rain or snow. Do not substitute a fan with an air conditioning unit. If a window does have an air conditioning unit, turn it off and cover it with plastic. Push curtains and blinds back to prevent blocked air flow. Exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathroom do not always vent out of your home, so do not rely on these fans to increase ventilation. Take frequent fresh air breaks while painting and leave the area if you experience eye watering, headaches, dizziness, or breathing problems. Allow your newly painted room’s air quality to return to acceptable by keeping windows open (weather permitting) for 2 to 3 days. Even after paint looks dry and doesn’t smell, it still emits vapors for several days.Young children, pregnant women, and individuals with breathing problems, should be especially vigilant about avoiding paint vapors.

By following these guidelines, you are making every effort to maintain the health of you, your family, and your home. At Atlanta Air Care, we are proud to provide a range of services to ensure your home has the best indoor air quality, such as air purification system installation and air duct cleaning. Call us at (770) 693-9842 to discuss additional ways that you can be sure your home’s air is as comfortable and healthy as possible.