Painting your baby nursery is a vital step in creating the perfect sanctuary for your newest family member. A lot of expecting couples daydream about taking the weekend to paint the baby nursery together, the wife all pregnant, working hard and getting messy. This is a fun daydream to have. But in reality, painting your baby nursery is a difficult skill that requires a lot demand, attention to detail, preparations, specific tools, time, and discomfort, that an expecting couple should really not put themselves through. It can lead to unwanted stress. That is the last thing you want right now. On top of that, most paints on the market are hazardous materials that could lead to health issues for you and your baby.
The Problem with DIY Painting, while Pregnant
Researchers will not put pregnant women at risk of possible hazards. Therefore studies have not been done to measure the exact amount of paint to which women can safely be exposed. The fact that researchers are not willing should be enough evidence! Some studies have shown that being exposed to solvents during pregnancy can lead to increased risk of miscarriage, birth defects and learning disabilities. Solvents (found in paints and newer products) that pose a risk are certain chemicals like formaldehyde, benzene, and ethylene oxide, as well as lead (found in older paints) and arsenic. More info on formaldehyde in paints. According to Sweden’s Dampness in Buildings and Health study, children with bedroom PGE concentrations in the top 25% (of the study participants) had a 100%higher likelihood of having asthma, a 150% higher likelihood of having eczema, and a 320% higher likelihood of having rhinitis. Cited from ECOS Paints Article here. Results suggest that in the general population, exposure to paint fumes during the 1st trimester of pregnancy may increase the risk of some types of congenital anomalies. Pubmed article.
Health Risks: VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)
VOCs in paints are known to cause headaches, eye and skin irritation, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue. Long-term exposure can lead to more serious health problems. Such as nerve-system damage, liver and kidney damage. Paint vapors pose a higher risk for pregnant women and young children. Remember this when painting your baby nursery! Many paints on the market contain VOCs and additives that off-gas for upwards of three years after application!
Additives and Toxins
Additives to paints, such as formaldehyde, benzene, and ethylene oxide, should also be avoided. Preservatives and pesticides are added to kill mildew and bacteria. These additives can be harmful. This means you should choose your baby nursery paint wisely. A list of products and leading brands containing VOCs and other harmful additives can be found. We came across a forum where tons of parents and expecting parents said they used Sherwin Williams “zero voc” paints for their baby nursery. This was so discomforting to read. The pigments giving the paint it’s color is loaded with VOCs in these brands. Furthermore, “Zero VOC” does not mean it is free of other additives and toxic chemicals. We came across this post:
“I registered at Babys R Us, I got some coupons (a free sample and $10 off) at Sherwin Williams. The flyer said it guarantees low odors perfect for expecting mamas and nurseries. I will definitely be trying the sample and go from there” Link to forum here.
We were speechless! Low-odor does not mean safe paint. The additives in most SW paints are known carcinogens.
Not to worry, expecting mothers and parents, there is an answer!
Experts agree that expecting parents should get a professional to paint for you. Avoid the area for at least a week after painting. This is why it is very important to plan ahead. If you decide to take on the project yourself, keep in mind these critical steps for avoiding exposure to VOCs and the other toxic additives.
- Talk to your health care provider before beginning. (If they say it’s safe, get a new provider!)
- Paint exposures in household painting projects is slightly less dangerous than industrial paint exposures
- Wear protective clothing, respirators, long sleeves and gloves.
- Keep the area well-ventilated and closed-off from the rest of the house; windows open, fans running, and doors to other rooms shut. I like to add two box-fans, one blowing outward, placed in the window, and another in the center of the room blowing towards the window.
- Avoid latex paints that contain solvents and additives like ethylene, benzene, formaldehyde, etc.
- Use water-based paints that will wash out and dry faster
- Don’t eat or drink in the room when you’re painting to avoid accidentally ingesting paint.
- Leave area immediately after painting.
- Call your doctor immediately if you experience symptoms like dizziness, nausea, or headache.
- Limit duration and frequency of painting. Take breaks often, and go outside during breaks.
It would be safest and fastest to get a professional to do it for you. We suggest you find a pro that knows more than just “NO VOC”. Ask them some questions beyond that. With my 15 year experience in the industry, I know plenty of painters don’t do much research on health and safety, being so busy painting!
Choosing Paints and Choosing Knowledgeable Paint-Pros
First, consumers can research and find painters that have knowledge on safe, health-promoting products. Romabio, ECOS Paints, and even Benjamin Moore offer safe, zero VOC, nontoxic paints for painting your nursery.
- Romabio is a certified Cradle to Cradle brand of mineral-based paints. There are no additives or solvents in Romabio. It is safe for your nursery, and lasts much longer than typical acrylic (plastic) paints. Romabio is one of the best paints for improved indoor air-quality, and the finish is like no other brands. Being mineral based – it dries like rock, as opposed to acrylic (plastic) paints.
- ECOS Paints offers Nursery Paint, and even Air Purifying Paint that literally cleans the air of VOCs and toxins. This is cutting edge technology, and will do wonders for your nursery (and the rest of the house!) ECOs is the only paint on the market that lists its ingredients. ECOS Air Pure Paint is also Third Party tested. Go to the “Data Sheets” and look under “Filtering Performance”.
- Benjamin Moore offers their Natura line of paints, which is certified asthma and allergy safe. This is a great, easily-accessible option.
Planning For a Healthy, Happy Future
Make sure you have planned out the textiles before painting begins. Interior designers would recommend going with neutral colors, as the decor can be in the spotlight. One is also less likely to change it more frequently. You can schedule a color consultation for help choosing colors. Experts recommend buying used furniture, as it has had time to “off-gas” those solvents. Consumers should shop for organic bedding and eco-friendly, locally made cribs. ECOS offers non-toxic paints for cribs, if you find a crib you love. Brush & Color’s passion is painting, and finding the safest ways to improve homes. Our Dream is to transform buildings and homes into health-promoting eco-systems. Watch for more articles to come on ways to improve your indoor air-quality, from Brush & Color!