Paint dust - worried

25 Oct 2016
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United Kingdom
So as part of a renovation project we have had the walls plastered and painted. My boyfriend is now sanding the walls, for some reason, before painting them again.

There is paint dust in every corner of the house. Not loads. But it's everywhere. My dog has it on his paws, then he's licking them. I try cleaning it off but if he walks on the floor there's more.

I'm really worried about how this might affect our health. Please tell me I'm worrying for nothing?
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If you're healthy, it's just dust, if you've got Asthma, get a more considerate boyfriend. You need to worry about older stuff materials which may contain carcinogenic substances in them.

I could lighten the tone by saying keep an eye on the dog - canaries down a coal mine and all that, but you're obviously a dog lover, so I'll just suggest you get one of the door seal kits that Aldi are selling at the minute - and use the vacuum cleaner more.

And to put things in perspective, always remember that life is a terminal disease, so learn to enjoy it now, rather than when it's too late.
Buy a sander and dust extractor (which is basically a vacuum cleaner that you plug the sander in to). If you don't aim to keep it, sell it after you finish.

Not only will you have very little dust, it will provide a much nicer environment for your BF to work in.

As a professional, I try to minimise dust. My set up will be beyond the practical budget of a DIYer but you could probably get a half sheet orbital sander and vacuum for about £100.

Plaster dust is a mare, it clings to everything (including the inside of vacuum bags). However, as Doggit suggests, it probably wont be a long term health issue.

As an owner of three dogs, i personally would not be worried about them licking the dust of their paws.
Thank you both of you :)

I think we do now have the sander/extractor you described. It's definitely helped but there's still a lot of dust... Is there a trick to using them? Part of the problem is the dust from before we bought this thing (we cleaned but can't seem to get rid of it entirely, and it doesn't seem worth cleaning thoroughly until the sanding's done), and dust that's getting carried around the house by people and feet.

Thank you again though; I'm starting to feel a little better :)
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Well, you can be too health conscious - you sometimes have to balance it against costs and your relationships in this imperfect world. Your boyfriend is maybe trying to save a fair few quid (maybe hundreds) of the family finances. He is lucky, my wife used to check every ingredient on every item or treatment - paint, primer etc. that I suggested. You know that laminate flooring gives off various toxic gases including formaldehyde for many months after laying it? PVC is a big no-no (Karndean, Amtico - gives off toxic gas for years), UPVC might be a bit better. Paints and primers contain many carcinogenic and organ damaging chemicals which they vent off for various amounts of time. Tiles are ok but check the adhesive and grout ingredients. So then we went with the most expensive option - got solid wood flooring (but then the finish was an issue) and wool carpets, but it was actually 20% nylon (chemical fumes given off), polyprop carpet is apparently ok. So you need to be a millionaire to avoid all this stuff. Even if you go with the most expensive 'natural' option available to most people there is always something bad about it health wise, like in the finish, so then you have to go to old traditional methods which are not hard-wearing so you have to renew it very often.

So dust - well, yes I would worry about it even if you don't have Asthma (although if you do then that's obviously worse). Breathing it in is not good. Dog licking with paws probably won't hurt it. Asbestos dust and dust containing lead (like from lead paint) is obviously bad. But is modern stuff proven to be 'harmless' - no. You can't really avoid this stuff. In contrast lots of people would love to move into a nice shiny new Barrett house and be dosed with toxins for years before they clear, no dust involved.
I think we do now have the sander/extractor you described. It's definitely helped but there's still a lot of dust... Is there a trick to using them?
Don't have one of those, I just stand by the better half with the hoover while he sands away! Does help loads tho. Sealing rooms is a huge help, as is windows wide open :)
And I echo other people's sentiments, am sure that a bit of dust would be fine. Probably more harmful going into a town center or cities with all the car fumes... !
If the walls have been re plastered why is there the need to do so much sanding after it has been painted ?
One mist coat on new plaster. Check any filling that may need doing. Gentle sand down to de nib, then two full coats of what ever your chosen finish is.

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