There are few things in life that makes us more hyper-aware of the safety of our home and environment than the imminent arrival of a new baby.
Pregnant mothers make decisions such as eliminating alcohol, reducing caffeine, opting for organic food. Then the purchases for the baby can include natural clothing, bedding, toys and furniture. But one thing that doesn’t always occur to new parents is the safety of the the nursery paint.
What is it about paint that should be a worry for new babies? Surprisingly the majority of paints available contain something known as volatile organic compounds (or VOCs), which can emit harmful chemicals to the immediate surroundings.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors. VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands.
Organic chemicals are widely used as ingredients in household products. Paints, varnishes and wax all contain organic solvents, as do many cleaning, disinfecting, cosmetic, degreasing and hobby products. Fuels are made up of organic chemicals. All of these products can release organic compounds while you are using them, and, to some degree, when they are stored.
There are a number of sources of VOCs in the home, but paint is a major contributor. This is not surprising considering that the walls and ceilings account for 70% of the interior of a house.
The real worry is that pain can continue to emit gases, even after it has dried. Estimates vary between six months and five years – but there is no absolute answer on this.
Scientific studies have found measurable negative effects from exposure to VOCs.
Particularly vulnerable are pregnant women, nursing women, infants and young children – hence the considerable concern for nursery paint choices.
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