Can inhaling enamel paint residual fumes cause health issues?

Q. I inhaled enamel paint residual fumes. How will the health be affected?

Answered by
Dr. Arul Amuthan L
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Jun 19, 2023

Hello doctor,

I (66 years, 145 lbs) am using a can of enamel paint in my basement. Total of 1 to 2 minutes. Had a mask on then took it off while I cleaned up 5 to 10 inhaling residual fumes. However, the mask was old. I know I should not have done it inside. Can this cause any health issues? Ran an air cleaner that helped take care of the smell. Now, most importantly my 15 months old granddaughter came to stay four days later. She never went to the basement. We try to keep the basement door closed. Could she have any health issues near or long term? It is really worrying me.



Welcome to The paints usually have toxic chemicals, which on long-term continuous inhalation (more than one month) definitely can accumulate sufficiently in lung and body, to produce the toxic effect. This can happen for the painting professionals without proper precautions. In your case, it is the single time (few hours) exposure. This can produce local irritation on eyes, nose, lungs, and skin. The symptoms are skin itching, burning sensation of eyes, headache, increased secretions from eyes and nose, cough, sometimes wheezing in susceptible cases. There are no possibilities for any other bad effects. That too these effects usually start within 30 minutes to one hour of exposure and last only for one day. Once we breath normal air, there is proper ventilation in the lungs, these paint chemicals from lungs would be washed out. After one day, you will be safe and can forget about this. My suggestion is to open windows and run exhauster fans to expel the smell (indicates the chemicals) of paint from the room. More ventilation, more washout. Three days it may take to completely remove the smell from the room. After that, you can allow the kid in the room. If the paint smell is there, do not allow the child to smell it. It will produce the above mentioned bad effects for her also. In case, if the kid is exposed into the room before complete washing out, no issues. Bring the child out, wash the face, eyes and nose with water. Keep baby in an open air space for 30 minutes. In a few new fresh breathing, the toxic chemicals from the lung get washed away. Usually, after painting, we need to pass new air to wash out the chemicals in the air. For a few days. If not, some other when we enter the room, we will be the victim.

Thank you doctor,

For me doing the painting, is there any issue with toxins in the brain? Also, for my granddaughter (15 months old)? She came to the house four days after the painting and never went down into the basement. Just want to know for sure if she could be affected by any long-term issues?



Welcome back to Short-term exposure (in your case, painting for short period, not as a profession) will never affect your brain. Only in long-term exposure in painting professionals without proper precautions, toxins accumulate and affect the brain. You are absolutely safe. Your grand-daughter is also safe as per your question. Do not allow her in the basement. Make the basement more ventilated. Once the painting smell has vanished, allow her to go there. So, right now no problem for you and your granddaughter.

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