Is Water-Based Paint Toxic?

Randy Charles
Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years...Read more

There is no doubt that water-based paints have become a healthier and better alternative to oil-based paints. Water-based paints are great for DIY projects such as doors, ceilings, and walls. They are environmentally friendly with little or no odour.

When I wanted to repaint my home with water-based paint, I started wondering if this type of paint has some toxicity. After my research, the information I gathered is an eye-opener and will be handy for many homeowners.

So, is water-based paint toxic? Read on to find real answers to the question.

Is Water-Based Paint Toxic?

Water-based paints are not toxic if inhaled in small quantities but can irritate when it comes in contact with the skin. When ingested, the paint could also cause stomach upset or nausea.

In general, water-based paints are not harmful to the body when ingested because they dont contain natural rubber latex as a part of the ingredient used in making the paint. The toxicity of this type of paint has lessened over the years since they are created in different varieties.

Is Water Based Paint Toxic

However, because water-based paints contain a high amount of volatile organic compounds (VOC), they could pose a severe health risk concern due to prolonged ingestion of the chemical. The consequences of overexposure to water-based paints could show up in different signs such as:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Sore throat
  • Eye and nasal irritation
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness

The best way to avoid these symptoms caused by prolonged exposure to water-based paints is for you and your family to get educated. Water-based paints have side effects that could be life-threatening. Some of these side effects include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Nervous system damage
  • Cancer
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney failure

Another way to prevent the side effects of prolonged exposure to water-based paints is to maintain a high level of air ventilation. When painting, always open the windows. Also, turn on the fans to increase air circulation. With this, you can reduce the risk of suffocation and other adverse side effects with more extended periods of ingestion.

See Also:Is Testor Enamel Paint Toxic?

Is Water-Based Paint Safe For Kids?

Painting the kids room with water-based paint is a typical DIY project for most parents. This type of paint is called the green paint. Is water-based paint safe for kids? Continue reading to get the answer.

Studies carried out at Harvard University by a team of scientists have shown that kids can develop allergies and asthma if exposed to fumes from water-based paints. This study can be discomforting for parents who have used the so-called green paint.

Is Water-Based Paint Safe For Kids

The studies went ahead to pick out solvents such as propylene glycol and glycol ethers used in making water-based paints as being responsible for the harmful effect on kids.These solvents are known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). They are found in different paints, and they serve as replacements for petroleum-based solvents.

Even when there is little or no exposure to VOCs, other compounds in water-based paints can still pose a health risk to kids. So, it doesnt make the paints safer even when paint manufacturers claim that their products have no VOCs since paints require other forms of chemicals to work effectively.

These solvents can stay in the home for many years. To avoid the harmful effect of these compounds on kids, it makes sense to go for interior paints. These paints are made explicitly for the interiors, which are safe for kids.

Are Pets Affected By Water-Based Paint?

Generally, pets such as cats and dogs are curious animals. These pets may walk around just painted areas and lick the paint or use their mouths to pick dripping paintbrushes. If this paint touches a pet’s skin, it could cause skin irritation, and if ingested, it could lead to gastrointestinal problems.

Are Pets Affected By Water-Based Paint

Water-based paints, including all other paints, can potentially release fumes that could cause pets to have eye irritation and respiratory discomfort if the environment is poorly ventilated.

The minimal touching or swallowing of the paint is unlikely to lead to significant symptoms in pets unless heavy metals are present in the paint. As such, water-based paints cannot cause a substantial threat to the life of any pet if the paint is ingested in a small quantity, but there is the possibility of kidney failure or neurological issues if consumed in a large amount.

The most harmful paints to pets are oil-based paints. They contain solvents that could damage the lungs and cause extreme breathing difficulty for pets.

When a pet starts to show signs of skin irritation or difficulty in breathing, the best solution is to take the animal to the vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment. If the paint is swallowed, some home remedies include ensuring the pets mouth is well rinsed with lukewarm water; giving the pet snacks and encouraging it to drink water can also mitigate the risk of stomach upset.

For skin contact, wash off the skin with water and mild soap or trim the skin with a clipper; dont use a pair of scissors to avoid cutting the pets skin. Dont attempt to induce vomit or administer medications. See a veterinary doctor.


Water-based paints dont pose any severe health challenges to humans and pets if there is minimal VOC exposure. However, heavy exposure to this paint causes breathing difficulty or skin irritation. Poisoning is also possible with high exposure leading to diarrhea, vomiting, and lack of appetite.

Some of the home remedies you can offer in case your pets are affected include rinsing the mouth of the pet if the paint is swallowed, washing the skin with mild water, or cutting the skin with a clipper. See a veterinary doctor immediately if these remedies dont offer any relief. See a medical doctor if the symptoms of paint ingestion are noticed in kids or adults. Also, ensure that there is enough cross ventilation to reduce the effect of poisoning.

Randy Charles
Randy CharlesProfessional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years of experience in the painting industry, Randy has become an expert in the field and is passionate about helping others learn more about painting. He has written numerous articles on the subject and is committed to providing accurate and up-to-date information to his readers.

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