Is It Safe to Spray Paint Outside Without A Mask

Last Updated on December 6, 2021

Spraying paint helps cover a large surface with a thin coat of beautiful colors in a short time. However, such beautiful paints often run down the risk of suffocation and health issues.

Yes, paint materials contain volatile compound particles, which are released in the air as you paint using a spray gun, HVLP sprayer, or even directly from the sprayer can. These can have an adverse effect on human health. So, physicians advise wearing a mask for painting.

Naturally, many people ask, “Is it safe to spray paint outside without a mask?”

The short answer is –NO!

You should never paint both indoor and outdoor without wearing a mask, especially for large projects which need hours of completion time. Spray paint often contains Acetone, Xylene, LPG, Ethylbenzene, etc. materials which can harm the painter’s health considerably.

Thus, we will today discuss the side-effects of spray paint; you should wear a mask or not for outdoor and indoor spray paint, and finally, tips on minimizing these health effects.

So, don’t miss it if you want to live happily and healthily even after spray painting.

How Is Spray Paint Manufactured:  A Brief Guideline

Spray paint is designed to work and dry in the fastest possible way. The aim is to provide you a fast-drying surface to boost production. Also, spray paint is widely used for decoration purposes to create a colorful vibe.

The science behind these spray paint manufacturing is pretty straightforward. These products are made using both gaseous elements and paints. The three most common elements used for spray paints include-

  1. Acetone
  2. Xylene
  3. Toluene

These elements work as the base of the paint. Also, manufacturers use gaseous elements to allow the paint to spread in the air and for fast drying purposes. The common spray paint type includes aerosol-delivered products.

These aerosol-driven sprayers used Chlorofluorocarbons as the key gas propellant. However, the use of Chlorofluorocarbons was prohibited by law in 1978 because it affected the ozone layer badly. These days, manufacturers use organic compounds such as hydrocarbon as the gas propellant for spray paint.

Some advanced aerosol paint sprayers use hydro-fluorocarbons.

Physicians and scientists have found these both these gaseous elements and aerosol ingredients used for sprayer paint are harmful to human health.

But, how harmful are these elements?

And how dangerous it is to work with these sprayers without wearing a mask?

Let’s elaborate on the discussion further.

Is It Safe to Spray Paint Outside Without A Mask?

Spray paint, in general, contains hydrocarbon toluene. It is a highly volatile element and is known for evaporating quickly at standard room temperature (25°C). When the solvent evaporates fast in the air, you will notice two things-

  1. The paint will dry fast
  2. The solvent releasing chemical vapors into the air

The vapor is intoxicating. Scientists have found that these intoxicating elements may cause suffocation, hallucination, and allergic symptoms if inhaled and came across the bare skin. Also, aerosol contains several health hazards for workers.

That’s why it is recommended that you always use spray paint in outdoor space to minimize these health concerns.  When you spray paint outdoor, the solvent and vapor won’t be blocked within the walls.

Nonetheless, it will still expose you seriously to aerosols and hydrocarbon toluene if you don’t wear a mask.  When you don’t wear a mask for spray painting, you may feel headache, slightly dizzy, or lightheaded after the paint spray session.

When you use the spray paint for a few minutes, you may do away with the paintwork even without wearing the mask. It is possible because working in outdoor conditions for a short period with spray paint limits fumes and volatile elements from being inhaled within you. Also, inhaling a small amount of these materials for occasional use might not harm you.

If you still feel unwell after using the sprayer paint, you should immediately consult a physician.

Next, if you paint for professional jobs, such as in construction sites and industrial spaces, you must wear a mask to avoid long-term health hazards.

Thus, it is strictly advised that applying spray paint without wearing a mask even in outdoor locations isn’t safe, and it’s not suggested either.

The Side Effects of Spray Painting Without A Mask

You should know that there are two fundamental paint types. These types are-

  1. Latex paint: Its main product is water which works as the solvent.
  2. Alkyd paint: These paints use oil-based solvents as their primary element.

However, spray paint comes with Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). These VOCs will release in the air as you spray the paint. The VOCs come as liquid or gaseous elements in the air and get mixed with the air soon.

So, you may inhale these VOCs. Such exposure will lead to both short and long-term health hazards for paint workers and occasional users.

The short-term side effects of exposure to VOCs caused by spray paints include-

  • Irritation of the different parts of the body ( nose, ears, and throat mostly)
  • Headache
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Slight nausea
  • Suffocation and breathing trouble

And the long-term exposure to VOCs may result in the following side effects for you.

  • Nervous system weakness
  • Kidney failure
  • Damage in liver

Health and Safety Executive reported in 2009 that exposure to aerosols and other VOC elements during spray paint boosts asthma problem 80X more. Thus, you will more likely face breathing issues when you spray paint daily without wearing a mask.

A mask or respiratory guard protects you from these elements and stops you from inhaling the VOCs. So, you will be less likely to face these health hazards caused by sprayer solvents.

Thus, whether you spray paint a car or exterior wall, you must always wear a facemask as the safety prerequisite. It will help you avoid these health issues.

Spraying Latex Paint Without A Mask: How Safe It Is?

Latex paint is the favorite of all homeowners who want to paint their home interior and exterior walls for a decorative look.

For those who don’t know what is latex, here’s a little insight on it-

Latex is a milky emulsion. It is found on most flowery plants and even some trees. The latex material is a complex and compounds one. It includes alkaloids, resin, starches, and little amount of oils. Another name of latex paint is acrylic paint.

The key ingredients of latex paint are-

  • Latex resin
  • Pigments
  • Fillers

The resin can be either natural or synthetic. However, most manufacturers use synthetic resin because of its powerful adhesiveness. Likewise, spray paint, latex paint also contains vapors and VOC elements. Thus, using latex paint for long hours without wearing a mask isn’t good for your health.

Is it Dangerous to Spray Paint Indoor Without Mask?

We have already stated that spraying paint outside without wearing a mask is highly hazardous for your health.

Thus, for indoor application, the rule is simple-

Spraying painting indoor without a mask is risker than outdoor use.

In indoor spaces, volatile elements such as toluene and acetone will create fumes quicker. Thus, it runs down the risk of suffocation and allergic symptoms greater than the outdoor uses. Also, due to the lack of ventilation indoor, the vapors and fumes of sprayers will last longer.

Thus, even if you remove the mask right after spraying is over, you still face the same consequences. It is suggested that you switch on your fan and open the windows for a few minutes before taking off the face mask.

Also, please avoid using the ac during indoor spray paint as the ac might accumulate fumes and spray specks of dust and later release them into the air. It is even more dangerous.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • Should you wear a mask when painting with oil-based paint?

Oil-based paints come with chemical pigments. The pores on your skin will absorb the pigments when released into the air and cause hazardous health concerns. Also, loose pigments will float in the air, and you may inhale them. Thus, you must always wear a protective mask to stop inhaling the hazardous chemicals of oil-based paints. Also, cover your skin with a full-sleeve cloth to avoid skin irritation and allergies.

  • What type of mask is suitable for outdoor spray paint?

You should choose respiratory face masks to spray paint in outdoor conditions. The respiratory masks come with different filters to screen out the harmful chemicals and VOCs and safeguard you from the possible side effects of spray paint. Check if you can smell the paint smell while wearing the mask. If you can still smell the paint odor, change the mask. It is essential for your health.

  • Is it indeed to breathe in VOCs of spray paint?

Volatile Organic Compounds, aka, VOCs contain aerosol, toluene, and acetone mostly. These elements are infamous for causing asthma and light breathing troubles a short while after the paint projects. So, yes, breathing in a spray paint area will harm your lungs. Also, you might feel dizzy if you inhale too many of these paint elements.


You should now know whether or not is it safe to spray paint outside without a mask.  Ideally, you must always wear a respiratory mask to prevent inhaling the volatile elements during the spray paint. Also, we recommend you avoid surgical masks for spray paint as these masks won’t prevent the tiniest VOC particles.

Also, you should wear full sleeve dresses to avoid skin irritation and allergic symptoms after the spray paint. Last but not least, don’t remove the respiratory mask right after you have stopped the paintwork. Instead, wait for 1 to 2 minutes to allow the particles to float away with the air. Now you are safe to remove the mask and breathe freely.