Is the strong smell that paints give off and that forces you to open doors and windows , is it harmful to health? The increase in diseases in the population such as cancer or certain diseases of the central nervous system, whose causes in many cases are yet to be revealed, has led researchers from around the world to analyze the composition and toxicity of the products that surround daily life . Among these objects of study are paints and varnishes , in which volatile organic compounds (VOCs), heavy metals and formaldehydes are found , all of them substances that can affect health.
Plastic paints and volatile organic compounds
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are all those hydrocarbons that occur in the gaseous state or that are highly volatile at normal ambient temperatures. This means that, at room temperature, any of these substances can be breathed.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment , this category includes more than a thousand compounds, many of which are highly toxic . Among the classes in which VOCs can be classified according to their dangerousness are compounds that are extremely dangerous to health and compounds that can cause significant damage to the environment.
The plastic paints that are commonly used to paint homes contain, in most cases, one or more of these compounds, with their consequent harmful damage to health. The toxic properties depend on each compound and the exposure conditions , and can cause allergic reactions or dizziness in short-term exposures, as well as neurological injuries and other psychiatric effects such as irritability, forgetfulness or difficulty concentrating on longer exposures.
The alternative: natural paints
Knowing how harmful these plastic paints can be to health due to their content in VOCs, formaldehyde and heavy metals, it is evident that the main benefit that natural paints have is the absence of these harmful substances in their composition.
Natural paints are mainly composed of vegetable oils, metal oxides and other derivatives of mineral or vegetable origin , which makes them biodegradable and respectful with the environment . Another characteristic of this type of paints is that they allow the transpiration of the materials they cover, preventing the appearance of damp , cracks and chips.
In conclusion, these are paints that do not have harmful substances, protect the environment, promote perspiration and also have a great durability . In fact, the Altamira Caves, which are over 13,000 years old, are painted based on iron oxides and charcoal.