|LEMONS by Sea Dean 6" x 8" Panel|
I was having an in depth conversation with a painter the other day, that's an interior house painter, not a fine artist, but nevertheless we have the same problem in our work environment, paint fumes. He said that when you apply paint, 70% of the product evaporates and ends up in the air. This could include acetone, mineral spirits, carboxylates (including carcinogenic formaldehyde) and numerous other VOC's (volatile organic compounds). It's a common among artists to think that acrylics and watercolorsare less harmful or even safer than oils. Not necessarily, all art products should be used in a well ventilated room and prolonged exposure should be avoided. I don't know any artist who wants to stop their artistic flow to get fresh air, so read this and take steps.
Well, I spend up to 14 hours a day inhaling the fumes from paint and additives, so I thought some investigation was in order. Some common organic answers are drops of vanilla in a pot on the stove, slices of lemon on a plate, a bowl of vinegar or sprinkling salt around. Thinking it through, these seemed to be ideas for masking the odour, not eliminating the toxins and I confirmed my thoughts with research. I also used to swear by my air purifier and ionizers until I started examining the studies and I found that they aren't designed to, nor do they, remove paint toxins from the air. Sheesh!
The very best solution is to open windows and/or fit extractor fans to remove the nasties. This is particularly important if you paint in the room where you sleep as many artists do - think New York warehouse studios. If you can't fit an extractor fan because your space is rented, consider a relatively cheap window extractor fan, which is fairly simple to fit. At the very least set up an ordinary fan facing out of an open window to blow out the toxins which will be replaced by fresh air naturally flowing in.
In addition to this, the best natural trick I could find was to cut an onion in half and place each half, cut-side-up, in opposite corners of the room. This apparently scientifically works. For more detail click here.
So now we will all be recognized as artists by our scent of of lemons, vanilla, vinegar and onions. We could even start a new craze for toxin eliminating perfume and make our fortune! But seriously, don't take risks with your health, it doesn't take much effort to add a bit of safety to your studio.
How does paint dry?
The dangers of paint fumes