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Tips for painting your new home safely

Looking forward to customizing your new home with freshly painted walls? Follow this advice for a project that is as safe as it is fun.

If you're planning to move, you're probably excited to customize your new home to match your personality and preferences. A major factor in defining your interior is selecting what colors you want to cover the walls. Before you pop open the paint cans and brushes, however, be sure to review these steps for avoiding hazards during your redecoration efforts.

Picking a safe paint

When painting the inside of your home, you'll want to select the safest pigment possible. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reminds homeowners to pick out paints that are made specifically for indoor use. Avoid outdoor options, which tend to have a higher toxicity and fume level. Interior paints typically come in either water- or oil-based varieties. The water or latex paints are better for indoor use, as they release fewer chemicals.

Ventilating for responsible painting

Even if the paint you select has a very low toxicity, you'll still want to keep your working space well ventilated to prevent inhaling fumes. To increase circulation in the room, open windows that allow outdoor air to travel through the area, and place a box fan in a frame if possible. Your ventilating efforts shouldn't stop when you're done painting the room, either. Experts from Georgia Institute of Technology recommend running fans and leaving windows open for two to three days after your project is completed to ensure that any dangerous fumes have been entirely diffused.

While painting, you may also want to implement personal safety measures, such as wearing protective clothing or a face mask to help minimize the number of fumes you inhale, even if you're using water-based paint.

Safely storing extra paint

After you've finished painting, you need to properly store and secure excess materials. The CPSC recommends trying to purchase only as much paint as you need, and disposing of anything that's leftover. If you decide to save the pigment, firmly seal the lid so as not to allow fumes to leak out and contaminate the air.

Potential risks

What are the risks of inhaling toxic fumes? According to the source, breathing in paint chemicals puts a person at danger of experiencing both short- and long-term side effects. Temporary conditions include rashes, dizziness, and irritation of the eyes, throat or nose. If you experience one or more of these symptoms, remove yourself from the area and flush out eyes or skin, or drink clean water to mitigate irritation. More serious side effects may also occur, such as damage to the lungs, kidney or liver, requiring medical attention.

You may also be at risk of certain hazardous incidents while painting that could affect your personal safety or damage your home. For instance, paint or removers can be highly flammable, so you should absolutely avoid smoking or using any lighted implements while painting or ventilating the room afterward. If you're cleaning up a paint spill, be sure to use a non-flammable solvent - never gasoline.

Women who are pregnant should be particularly cautious when planning to paint. Family Education says that participating in renovation efforts is all right if you're expecting, but you'll want to be sure to use water-based pigments and pay special attention to ventilating the space. It may be wise to check with your physician and read up on safe paint options before purchasing any materials. Pay special attention to your physical condition - if you begin to feel light-headed or dizzy, seek seating outside or in another, well-ventilated room as soon as possible. Taking occasional breaks and wearing a protective face mask can help mitigate the chances of this happening.

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