So you’ve found a vibrant new paint color for your child’s room, but now you’re faced with a dilemma because you want your child to have a beautiful freshly painted room and at the same time you might be worried about repainting your kids' rooms because of the fumes the fresh paint would leave behind.
So, is it safe for kids to sleep in a freshly painted room?
Generally, YES! With the recent innovations in paint technology nowadays, you will only need to wait for three to four hours for the fumes from the paint to dry and, voila! Your kids can sleep safe and sound in their freshly painted beautiful bedrooms. Of course, the paint has to dry first which means during the three to four hours. You should ventilate the freshly painted room well to ensure that the fumes actually go out of the room.
That’s good news for all the do-it-yourself moms and dads out there! Now, the fear of paint fumes will never stop you from getting creative with the colors for your home projects. And, children’s rooms are not just colorful and vibrant but more importantly, they are safe for the health and the environment.
It’s important to note, though, that this only applies to water-based paints that are commonly used in homes. Not all types of paints are created equal, and parents should scrutinize the types of paints used in homes, especially in children’s rooms.
oWhat’s the point of waiting for the paint to dry anyway?
You might be wondering why there’s a need to wait for paint to dry before sleeping in a newly painted room. Isn’t it enough to be careful not to touch the wet paint? After all, nobody wants to smudge the paint on their beautiful new walls.
The reason why we need to wait for paint to dry is because of VOCs. According to Toxtown.nlm.nih.gov, VOC stands for volatile organic compounds. Unfortunately, organic in VOC does not mean it’s healthy. Quite the opposite, actually. Here, organic means that there is at least a carbon molecule in its composition. VOCs are chemicals that can easily turn into gases at typical room temperature and they are very bad for you. Especially, if you will be sleeping in that newly-painted room.
We all know that house paints come in liquid forms and they’re made of a mixture of chemicals. As you paint these chemicals onto your wall, the paint will start to dry, and some chemicals will begin to turn to vapor. These are the VOCs. When they turn into vapor, they react with sunlight and nitrogen oxides, which are naturally present in the air to produce ground-level ozone, also known as “smog”.
VOCs are not just found in paints. They’re also in cigarettes, cleaning fluids, air fresheners, wood preservatives, and pesticides. As for air quality, notice the mention of cigarettes and pesticides. No one wants their children sleeping with fumes as harmful as those in cigarettes and pesticides, right? So then, nobody should ever sleep in freshly painted rooms without waiting for the paint to dry.
VOCs are so dangerous that even short-term exposure to them may cause irritation of the eyes and respiratory tract, headaches, dizziness, visual disorders, and memory problems. And, long-term exposure is even more dangerous. It can cause damage to the liver and kidneys because these organs are responsible for cleaning out your body from toxins, and it also affects the central nervous system. Also, with a study made by Robert Dales & Mark Raizenne in 2004, manifestations of damage to the central nervous system could be a loss of coordination and dizziness. Lastly, as many harmful chemicals, VOCs can also cause cancer.
So when you’re using paints with VOCs, make sure to wait sometime before sleeping in the newly-painted room. Again, if the paint is water-based, wait three to four hours and if it’s oil-based, it’s best to wait for at least 24 hours. The waiting time is important to let all those VOCs evaporate and get off the room so that they don’t harm your child.
Types of Paints
There are three major kinds of paints that are used in painting homes and these are water-based paints, oil-based paints, and low- and non-VOC paints.
Water-based paints are more common in homes and interior painting. They have a wider range of colors, they dry at a lesser time, and are generally more flexible in terms of its use compared to oil-based paints. On the other hand, oil-based paints have great resistance to harsh wear and tear, and they can produce a smooth finish that you cannot get when you are using water-based enamel paint. So, while water-based paints are more commonly used, some people might opt for oil-based paints to use in their homes.
This does not necessarily mean that oil-based paints are harmful if used in homes as told by Kraudeltpainting.com.au. Oil-based paints just need a bit more time to dry and have stronger odors as well. It is safer to wait about 24 hours for the paint to dry and the fumes to go out of the room before sleeping in your freshly painted room if you’re using them. Not waiting long enough for the paint to dry might cause your children headache, nausea, or sinus discomfort.
Now, on to low- or non-VOC paints. These are considered the safest of all house paints because they either have a reduced amount of those nasty VOCs in them or the paint manufacturers have somehow managed to get rid of them from their paint’s chemical formula. It’s so safe that you don’t even have to wait for any period of time before your child can start using the freshly painted room.
What to do to get rid of those VOCs?
With all the harm VOCs in paints cause, should we just forego with paints? Absolutely not! What kind of world would we be living in if we can’t have the ‘color of the year’ painted on our walls? That’s terrible for the eyes and that’s terrible for the children’s playrooms. Colors are known to transform otherwise drab rooms into a lively one with lots of characters and they affect moods and adds to a general satisfaction from one’s surroundings.
The problem with paints are the VOCs in them. However, because VOCs are volatile, meaning they turn to gas quite easily, they don’t stay for so long in rooms. As long as you ventilate the room well while the paint is drying, the VOCs should be able to get out of the room and dissipate into the atmosphere.
Aside from ventilating your child’s room, another thing you can do to eliminate paint fumes is to put buckets of water in the room. The water will absorb some of the vapors so that the fumes leave the room faster. Just be sure to remember to take out the buckets from the room when the room’s ready for use though.
Another way to do this is to light candles in the room. The volatile compounds in the paint will be burned and consumed by the flames. However, as you can probably imagine, this is not a very safe way of removing fumes from your child’s room so use this method very cautiously and never leave the lit candles unattended.
Non-VOC Paints, The Safest of Them All.
If you ask me, homes should just use non-VOC paints all the time. Regardless if the room your painting will be used by children or not. Non-VOC paints are very safe, almost odor-free, and do not release nasty chemicals that harm the people living in the painted rooms. Studies have also shown that these paints do not trigger allergic diseases in school-aged children.
In addition to being safe for your child’s health, non-VOC paints are also environmentally friendly because solvents in these paints are significantly reduced. They emit lesser amount of chemicals that any other type of paint available in the market.
If there are no non-VOC paints in your area, use the paint with the lowest VOC. This way, it won’t take so much time for the fumes to dissipate out of the room. By the time your child will use his freshly painted room, all the fumes will have gone away as of the study made in 2016.
To summarize, you don’t really have to ban colorful paint from your children’s rooms. While paint have chemicals that can have hazardous effects to the health, it’s easy to avoid such effects by letting the paint dry and ventilating the room for some time before using the room. This will help the fumes dissipate out of the room so that the room can be safe for your children and if you’re still worried that some fumes might linger in the rooms, use non-VOC paints. They are the safest and you will not need to wait for a long time before you can use your newly painted room.
Painters in Warner Robins, Macon, and adjacent areas
If you need a reputable painting company in Middle Georgia, Warner Robins, Macon region who understand the needs of their clients look no further contact the experts at Pizzazz Painters Warner Robins. Check us at https://www.pizzazzpainterswarnerrobins.com/ and schedule your appointment for a free painting estimate or call us at 478-292-2821.
We are here to help!
 Robert Dales & Mark Raizenne (2004) Residential Exposure to Volatile Organic Compounds and Asthma, Journal of Asthma, 41:3, 259-270, DOI: 10.1081/JAS-120026082
 Won Park, Dong & Kim, Sang-Heon & Moon, Ji-yong & Seok Song, June & Choi, Jeongim & Jung Kwak, Hyun & Gil Jeong, Myeong & Ro, Young & Kim, Tae Hyung & Sohn, Jang & Ho Shin, Dong & Park, Sung-Soo & Yoon, Ho. (2016). The effect of low-VOC, water-based paint on aggravation of allergic disease in school children. Indoor air. 27. 10.1111/ina.12301.
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