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Will inhaling oil based paint cause brain damage?

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Answered by

Pain Medicine & Palliative Care Specialist
Practicing since : 1983
Answered : 1337 Questions
hi doctor,

firstly thanks for your help. I asked a similar question yesterday on XXXXXXX but I'm still feeling concerned.

I used an oil-based paint yesterday to make my own chalkboard. Now doing research on oil-based paint, I've read they contain high amounts of VOCs and are toxic. I didn't know this before I started painting but I noticed the paint smelled very strong.

I was doing the painting in the carport which has no walls and only a roof, so I would say it is a well ventilated area. But I'm still concerned because I know I breathed in the paint fumes which were very strong.

I'm aware that some people use paint fumes to get high and they end up with brain damage from doing this. I might be having anxiety about inhaling the oil-based paint but I'm worried about the fumes causing me some brain damage. Can you explain to me if it's possible for those fumes to damage my brain because I see no difference with huffing paint and inhaling the fumes while painting.

I really regret using this paint because I'm feeling unwell today and concerned.
Posted Tue, 29 Oct 2013 in Medicines and Side Effects
Answered by Dr. Kerry Pottinger 27 minutes later
Brief Answer:
You are not at risk.

Detailed Answer:
Thank you for using Healthcare Magic.
The area in which you were using the paint was very well ventilated and, therefore, you are not at risk of any of the toxic side-effects of brain damage.
The abuse of paint by inhalation involves inhaling highly toxic concentrations at close quarters which could not be achieved by the normal use of paint for it's intended purpose.
I can say with absolute certainty that you will not suffer brain damage by using the paint in the way that you have described.
I hope this has reassured you. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Dr K A Pottinger,
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Will inhaling oil based paint cause brain damage? 25 minutes later

not even if you're in close proximity to the open paint can and the wet paint?

I have no experience with this paint, and had I known more about it I would have bought a different type.

thanks for your reassurance.

Answered by Dr. Kerry Pottinger 29 minutes later
Brief Answer:
You are safe.

Detailed Answer:
Thank you for your further question.
This type of paint will have been rigorously tested for it's safety prior to being sold and you were following the usual safety precautions of working in a well ventilated area. Therefore, you need have no concerns.
In order to inhale toxic quantities which would produce brain damage, you would need to inhale the fumes at very close proximity in extremely high concentration, which would not be possible in a well ventilated environment such as your carport.
I hope this is further reassurance.
I will be happy to answer any further questions.
Dr K A Pottinger,
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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