Although lead has been banned for use in paints and stains for years, other chemicals used in the manufacture of these products have also been linked with significant health and environmental issues. Most paints and stains contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other toxic additives that create toxic fumes that can linger indoors for long periods of time. Some VOCs contribute to ozone depletion while others have known health risks.
The good news is that no-VOC paints and stains are becoming more widely available to the consumer. Most of the major paint manufacturers have a line of environmentally friendly products, and they’re available at most hardware and home improvement stores.
If you must use products containing toxic chemicals, do so only in well-ventilated areas and avoid prolonged exposure. Do not allow children to sleep or play in newly painted rooms until the smell has dissipated.