Are Non-toxic Paints Actually Edible?


I was sitting in my living room, wondering what I should use for paint. Questions about this topic began to fill my mind. After all, I don’t want to pollute my airspace with toxic chemicals. What about eating paint? Even worse, what if the kids decide to ingest it?

Are non-toxic paints edible? The answer is No! They are not edible, because all paint has some level of solvent in the chemical mix that is poisonous to the human body. However, you can eat non-toxic paints, but you will probably experience adverse side effects from it.

Disclaimer: It is extremely dangerous to eat any paint. I do not recommend it at all. On the flip side, we need to know what the difference is between edible and eatable to understand this crisis.

Is Non-toxic Paint Safe To Eat?

So how do you determine if non-toxic paint is safe to eat? Do you eat it and hope you don’t end your life in a screaming fit of pain and agony? How can we know that non-toxic paint is safe to eat?

So there are several kinds of paints, according to Romper.com. Here is a quote from author Mishal Ali Zafar posted in the blog post, “What Happens If My Kids Eat Paint? You Know, Besides My Panic Attack”:

“According to the National Capital Poison Center (NCPC), water-based paints can cause vomiting if swallowed in large amounts, and oil-based paints can contain highly poisonous solvents.” she wrote. Check here for further details about toxicity in water based paint.

“National Institutes of Health noted that even when paints are labeled “non-toxic,” many of them still contain chemicals like cadmium or cobalt, which can be harmful when swallowed.”

So you need to find a paint that has limited amounts of chemicals, that is water-based, and adheres to the guidelines of the VOC emissions test. Let’s explore this concept even further by learning what products are out there for non-toxic paints.

What are non- toxic paints?

Dealing with the original question, we first must understand what non-toxic paints are and how they compare to more traditional options.

Non-toxic paints seem to be a trend in these modern times. The shift from traditional household chemicals and materials to eco-friendly products is becoming more visible everywhere.

One resource that explains this concept of nontoxic paints well is the Go New Mommy blog. This blog is devoted to helping parents finding organic and safe alternatives for their kids.

Non-toxic paints are paints with low or zero Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). These VOCs are off gas that releases into the air after it is applied: the low VOCs and the zero VOCs with chemical compounds are usually made with organic and natural materials.

Ordinary paints can have as much as 10,000 different chemicals in them. Many of these chemicals can be considered toxic with the right concentration. So it is essential to make sure that you know the difference between regular paint and Low or zero VOC paint.

For a paint to be labeled as low or zero VOC paint, according to the Go New Mommy blog, the “Federal government requires the VOCs in paint to be less than 250 grams per liter for flat finishes and 380 grams per liter for other finishes.” (Non Toxic Paint Guide – How Paint Can Be Toxic And What To …. https://gonewmommy.com/2018/03/21/non-toxic-paint/)

More traditional paints have more than 380 grams per liter requirement, making them more toxic to use in your home. It has only been in more recent times that we have had the option of going non-toxic in our paints. An excellent example of non-toxic paints is the brand Ecos Paints.

Ecos Paints carries non-toxic paint as its main product offerings. The Semi-Gloss Pet Dwellings Paint that Ecos Paints offers is an excellent example of what a non-toxic paint is. According to the website, this paint is VOC free and has no odor.

When you look at the ingredients list for this product, you can see that while it doesn’t claim to have stuff like Cadmium or Cobalt, but it has things like thickener and a couple of polymers in it that it is not considered edible. However, you can eat it without fear of death.

Some of the reviews for the paint talk about how it was used for different projects. One person used it for their Rabbit cage said: “I used this product to paint my rabbit cage! I was glad to find a paint that I felt comfortable with since rabbits are known to chew. Happy there is a paint a could trust!”.

So what is the difference between edible and eating the paint? Is there a difference, I mean, you will get sick eating the color, whether it is regular or non-toxic, right? Let’s take a look at the difference between eating and edible.

Eat vs. Edible

Mixing up the words “Eat” and “Edible” is a common mishap that I have made many times before. While we tend to use the words “edible” and “eat” or “eatable” interchangeably, they have different meanings and outcomes that should be taken into consideration.

An excellent rule of thumb of defining edible is asking yourself “Can you eat it without hurting yourself in any fashion or form?” If the answer is Yes, then you are good to go.

So something is edible if it can be ingested and digested without any side effects. Who wants the screaming eagle after eating something? Not me.

Keep in mind, just because you don’t have any side effects immediately after, does not mean it is safe to eat.

You may throw it up later, or it may run through you, but you were able to put it down so therefore it is technically eatable. If it were edible, then you wouldn’t have any issues that seem like you were poisoned. When you vomit, feel nauseous, stomach ache, or other side effects, that’s when you know it’s not edible.

So the issues that arise from eating paint usually are linked to the kind of paint that is ingested. This is further broken down into what the base of the color consists of and whether there are known toxins in the paint. Let us take a look at the types of bases that paint is usually developed.

What Kind of Paints Are Out There?

So what kind of paint is out there? Well, paint can be split between two bases:

  • Water
  • Oil

There are three basic kinds of paints that are derived from the two bases. You have:

  • Latex paint
  • Oil-based paint
  • Solvent-based paint.

All of them have negative effects on those who decide to eat paint.

One of the first places to look when you have a question about toxic stuff is the poison control center. They have articles and databases chock full of information that covers any substance known to most people.

One of their articles covers paints that you use indoors. In the blog post, “Paints for Indoor Use

When Should I Be Worried (Poison Control Center)?”, they include the differences between different types of paints for indoor use, the dangers for pregnant women, and what to do with the exposure of chemicals to various body parts.

So concerning eating paint, it is not recommended by the poison control center. However, it is not going to kill you or your child if they only ingest a little bit. Let’s go through the different types of paint this article lists and look at how they will affect your body if you swallow them.

Latex Paint “If swallowed, it can cause an upset stomach or even vomiting.”
Oil – Based Paint “They can cause stomach upset if swallowed…if someone swallows oil-based paint, and chokes on it, paint can get into the lungs.”
Solvent-based paints “…can be more irritating than latex or oil-based paints on the skin or if swallowed.”

Latex paint

So let’s break this down a bit further.

Latex paint is:

  • water-based
  • acrylic-based
  • vinyl
  • styrene paint

These paints contain manufactured polymers that bind the chemicals together in the same manner that natural latex would.

Latex paint can be used for indoor jobs like bedroom walls and interior doors. You can also use it for exterior surfaces like siding, exterior doors, and other surfaces that generally get a good coat of paint.

Smooth surfaces are where latex paint is best applied. Surfaces like drywall, the metal on exterior doors, and planed wood, are good locations. It is less effective on concrete and rough surfaces. You want to use oil-based paint for the more uneven surfaces.

According to the poison control center, Latex paint is the least harmful of the three paints. You can eat this without it seriously affecting your health. Just a little vomiting and some stomach issues, and you can move on with your day.

Again, we recommend against ever consuming any paint (or even the idea of it).

Oil-Based Paints

Oil-based paint, unlike latex-based paint, is more durable and takes longer to dry.

Oil-based paint will have natural or synthetic oils as a base. Also known as linseed or alkyd respectively. This makes the paint more resistant to other chemicals and liquids that would usually wear down other paints.

You can use oil-based paint on many exterior surfaces and locations where there is lots of water content in the air, like bathroom walls or the kitchen. It is the choice for any surfaces that experience lots of traffic and disturbance.

According to the Poison control center, oil-based paints are a little more severe than latex paints in terms of toxicity. With oil-based paints, you can experience skin damage and possible lung damage.

The mineral oil in the paint can seriously render your lungs useless and cause pneumonia. Imagine exhaling and not inhaling the same amount you emitted. That is what these eating these oil-based paints can do with your lungs. Not something you want to ingest.

Solvent-Based Paints

The solvent-based paints are usually the worst of the three. You don’t have to swallow any of it to get sick. Just inhaling the paint can for an extended period cause issues, including getting high and may lead to death. Usually this happens as a result of not being a well-ventilated area when applying the paint.

So, how do you handle swallowing paint? What can you do about the side effects of eating paint? Keep reading to find out.

What Does Poison Control Have to Say?

Poison control has a lot of information on how to treat different exposures to different toxins. Poison Control has specialized first aid advice for all kinds of vulnerabilities with all sorts of people.

Basically, according to the article, “Paints for Indoor Use When Should I Be Worried?”, any of the paints used for indoor projects, both toxic and non-toxic, can be resolved with generally the same solutions.

Skin is always the first part to be affected by the chemicals in paint. That is because it is the first point of contact with the contaminant. You can’t get the paint anywhere else without touching your skin and tissue first.

The first aid for paint related issues is also covered by the poison control center. The basic instructions given are to wash off the paint if it is irritating your skin with soap and water. You can wash anything off with soap and water. You can’t get a better start a good start to eliminating the irritation from the paint.

You can wash with soap and water to cleanse the skin. You can drink water or milk for any paint that has been swallowed. You can rinse your eyes if you happen to get any paint up there. They are very basic in their approach to first aid but very useful.

Another issue that this article discusses is how exposure to these paints affects pregnant women. The paint fumes are not proven to cause problems extra for pregnant women, but it is highly recommended that pregnant women stay away from these fumes.

Now, working with paint and being exposed to it is one issue that we seem to have nailed. What about the psychological aspect of eating paint? Why would someone eat paint? Have you ever wanted to eat paint? No, not me never. However, there is an eating disorder called PICA that involves eating paint.

PICA

There is a disorder out there that seems to be coming up as a pretty new and complex issue. It is named PICA, and it is the result of your mind wreaking havoc on itself. According to WebMD, “Pica is the persistent eating of substances such as dirt or paint that have no nutritional value.”

When a person has PICA, they consistently eat things that are not edible. This includes paint or paint chips from anywhere. That’s a common sign of this disease. Chipping the paint off of different surfaces and eating it is not just common for little children, but also people with PICA.

So in response to the issues of eating paint and the dangers, it causes to your health, what is the paint industry doing about it?

What Does the Industry Say?

The paint industry has worked on this issue for the past few decades, due to the demand for safer household products. Before non-toxic paint came on the scene, paint had substantial amounts of lead in it because it was cheap and there was plenty of it on the market.

However, as people wisened up on the health risk this paint was, manufactures began innovating and switching to non-toxic paints as we know them today.

Non-toxic came into the picture sometime during the 20th century as a replacement for lead-based paint. As painting became more industrialized, people began looking for solutions to the toxicity of the conventional lead paints.

With the invention of non-toxic paints, came more robust colors and variety, which attracted many artists such as Picasso and Pollock to switch to these paints and use them in their artwork (Life in color: The surprising story of paint).

To add to this is the increase in standardization for different categories of paint in the industry. Non-toxic paint to be considered non-toxic paint, it has to pass the VOC emissions test, be virtually odorless, and conform to any regulations placed on the product, as we saw in the ECOS Paint example.

Eating this paint is not going to kill you, so long as you don’t eat a can full at a time. Non-toxic paint is not edible, and should not be ingested at all. Your body will not handle it correctly, and you will most likely puke your guts up.

So please, when you decide to do your next home improvement project, keep the paint out of reach. If you can’t, then consider the safer option of non-toxic paint. It has fewer chemicals in it which makes it safe for using around interested little people, like toddlers and house pets.

You don’t want your kids (two-legged and four-legged alike) to ingest something that they will not come back. Safety first is key.

 

 

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