Be Cautious Around Chemicals.
We will be decorating our house and the baby's nursery in preparation for our son's arrival. I am worried about the effects of paint fumes, et cetera, on me during pregnancy. How can we do this safely? -- Kim
The expert answers
The safest route is to let someone else do the painting and for you not to be nearby. Every paint contains chemicals, and there has not been a large investment by the paint companies to study the possible ill-effects of paints on pregnant women. If you have the luxury to get a painter, stay out of the house and have the rooms well-ventilated before you re-enter your home. Some paints have a solvent called glycol ether, which some studies suggest increases the risk of miscarriage.
Other solvents have been linked to causing miscarriages plus an increased chance of birth defects. Although water-based paints contain fewer solvents than oil-based paints and paint thinners, we still do not know the actual effects of the various chemicals in these products.
If you do decide that you must be involved in the painting, be sure there is ample cross-ventilation (using fans and opening windows), wear gloves, a mask, and protective clothing, and don't bring any drinks or food into the room. The biggest fear with these fumes is the risk of the unknown dangers. Until more questions are answered with certainty, I strongly recommend enjoying the finished product and letting someone else do the painting.