The Brad Stoner Painting Blog

The Brad Stoner Painting Blog

The Brad Stoner Painting blog is your San Diego Painting information destination for everything to do with painting; house painting, commercial painting, interior, exterior, picking the right contractor, the latest painting trends and much, much more.

How to Minimize Paint Fumes When Painting the Office

Brad Stoner

Were it a painter’s world, all office employees for the duration of the job would be gifted a vacation to Orlando or assigned an air respirator. But seeing as no one can answer the phone while wearing an air respirator mask, other steps must be taken.

OSHA Guidelines
Any commercial painting project begins with scripture from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA has specific requirements for shipyard painting, automotive spray painting, and for situations involving combustible, anti-rust, fire-resistant and other task-specific paints.

Painting an office may not involve the preservative epoxies of a shipyard, but it battles its own challenges. The cubicle labyrinth contains a cross-section of humanity: asthmatics, expectant mothers, mysophobiacs, and those who get high off of Sharpies. For the sake of all, paint fumes must be expurgated.

Choosing Eco-Friendly Paint

Paint lays bare the bad side of Mother Nature. A gallon of exterior enamel contains hundreds or thousands of chemicals, some of which are toxins or potential carcinogens. The most well-known offenders are volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which contribute to smog pollution, ozone depletion and may prove harmful to humans following long-term exposure.

Thanks to advances in chemistry, professionals are increasingly choosing low-VOC or zero-VOC latex paints. Many of these paints offer an environmentally friendly product without severe sacrifices in color section or durability. Typically, water-based paints emit fewer VOCs than oil-based paints and stains.

Fume Expurgation and Personal Protection Equipment
The key to fume expurgation is air control and ventilation. Brushes release the fewest fumes; spray nozzles release the most. Humid rooms should be dehumidified prior to painting, and air conditioning vents should be closed to stop wayward fumes from pulling a jailbreak. Since dust masks do not protect against solvent vapors or crystalline silica, painters and passersby should wear approved respirators.

Fumes should not be boxed in or recirculated. Use two fans per room: one to push clean air in, and another to pull vapors out. Blow fumes into the outdoors, since indoor air quality is usually worse than outdoor air – unless, of course, you live in Mumbai.

Stopping the Smell
VOCs aside, who wants to inhale paint vapors at all? One simple suggestion is to cleave an onion and set the two halves in the open, where they can adsorb and break down paint aldehydes. Others prefer to light a candle, brew coffee, or set out bowls with slices of citrus fruit floating in water diluted with white vinegar.

Or plant a spider plant. A protégé of NASA’s phytoremediation program, the spider plant can break down formaldehyde like some trees break down carbon dioxide. Fumes become food. 

Maybe it is a painter's world after all. 

We at Brad Stoner Painting certainly think so. Our world encompasses the San Diego area, where we've worked for more than 30 years on interior office painting jobs. We work hard, we work safe - and we work for you. So let's get together.


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