Home » Are Paint Fumes Bad for Budgies?
can paint fumes kill budgies?

Are Paint Fumes Bad for Budgies?

Budgies have sensitive respiratory systems, so they can quickly succumb to breathing problems when their air quality is poor. Some types of paint give off potent fumes, while others are less harmful.

Paints release volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and types with slow off-gassing are the most dangerous. Due to how budgies’ lungs and air sacs work, they inhale more toxins than humans.

Always remove your budgie from the room when painting. Ventilate the area well, and don’t return your budgie to the space until the fumes have gone. If you’ve painted a room, let it cure.

Water-based paints are safer, such as acrylic, craft paints for children, and latex paint.

Is Paint Harmful To Budgies?

Paint is a known cause of death for birds, large and small alike.

According to International Agency for Research on Cancer, exposure to paint fumes increases the risk of mesothelioma and various cancers in humans.

These negative health effects can only be more pronounced in birds.

That’s why there’s so much caution surrounding paint used in home renovations. Measures include wearing masks, ensuring the area is well-ventilated and avoiding paints with high VOC levels.

However, budgies should be separated from any paint fumes for the following reasons:

Avian Respiratory System

Humans take air into their lungs before exhaling. Scientists call this process ‘tidal flow’ because it’s similar to how waves come and go on a beach. However, birds move air in their lungs in one direction.

When a budgie inhales, oxygen-rich air is breathed through the lungs and into a system of air sacks. Any oxygen-poor air goes to the front-most air sacs. When the budgie exhales, the oxygen-rich air goes back into the lungs, pushing the waste air out of the body.

This means that oxygen is passed through the body as the budgie inhales and exhales. Due to the one-way design, budgies don’t have ingoing and outgoing air mixed in their lungs.

Budgies can take in twice the amount of oxygen as humans, but it also means any chemicals present in the air are twice as potent. 

is paint harmful to budgies?

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Certain types of paint are harmful to budgies due to VOCs. These are harmful chemicals slowly released into the air in a process called off-gassing.

Off-gassing is responsible for the smell of paint. This odor can be unpleasant to many people, especially when it is very fresh.

Most of this unpleasantness is because many paints contain harmful toxins. For this reason, it’s recommended that you leave the paint to dry for 3 days.

However, off-gassing can happen for as long as 6 months after the initial application. That’s why it’s important to use paints with the least number of VOCs.

Only return your budgie to the room when you’re sure it’s not emitting any harmful toxins.

Low VOC Paints

Of course, some paints are listed as low VOC paints.

These are safer for budgies, as lower VOC paints will off-gas much faster than other paints, so areas they’re used will air out much faster.

However, the label may not be accurate for all brands. According to the Indoor Air Conference, some paints labeled with low VOC levels still emitted VOCs higher than the recommended amounts.

For this reason, err on the side of caution before moving your budgie back into the room.

Safe Paint For Budgies

As long as the paint isn’t giving off fumes, any water-based paint is safer for budgies because they dry faster and release fewer chemicals.

That isn’t to say water-based paint is harmless. Your budgie shouldn’t touch or interact with it, as ingesting the paint can be toxic.

If you can smell off-gassing or fumes from the paint, remove the budgie from the area immediately.

Is Acrylic Paint Toxic To Budgies?

Acrylic paints are considered less harmful to budgies because they contain the same pigments used in water-based paints.

The only difference between them is the vehicle and binder. Water-based acrylics often don’t have as many harmful chemicals added as oil-based paints. 

However, acrylics still release paint fumes as they dry. Specifically, these are propylene or ethylene glycol, which can irritate the lungs.

Different brands of paint contain different chemicals and some release more fumes than others.

The most common toxins found in acrylics include:

  • Formaldehyde
  • Ammonia
  • Manganese
  • Cadmium
  • Cobalt
  • Lead

Many toxic additives are used to color the paint.

For this reason, it can be easy to spot which brands contain harmful ingredients. For example, cobalt is often used in blue paint, while cadmium is used in yellow or red paint. 

Nonetheless, paint with toxic chemicals will have a label on its container. This label will explain the present ingredients, so you can choose one with the least harmful additives.

Propylene or ethylene glycol is almost always present in acrylic paints.

Is Latex Paint Toxic To Budgies?

Latex paint comes in a water-based variety that’s most commonly used for home purposes. Latex paint is similar to acrylic paint, as they’re created using acrylic resin.

The only difference is that latex is a thinner version of acrylic due to the addition of vinyl resin. This also means latex paint is much cheaper than acrylic paint. It can cover large surfaces much easier but loses out on durability and water resistance.

For budgies, you should know that both paints are composed of the same ingredients, just with different ratios. As a thinner paint, latex may be safer than acrylic paint.

However, some latex brands contain more toxic materials than others.

safe paint for budgies

Craft Paints For Budgies

Paints sold for crafts are usually non-toxic when water-based.

Good craft paint choices include:

  • Watercolor
  • Gouache
  • Acrylic

Unlike paints made for home renovations, these are often completely non-toxic.

Check the label and consider buying those made for children. Artist paints contain toxic chemicals, but these tend to be marketed to professionals.

Of course, even non-toxic paint can still give off fumes. They’ll be less potent than even latex paints and acrylic paints meant for home renovation.

This shouldn’t be a problem for your budgie if you use a small amount. Avoid using it directly beside them, and ensure that the room is well-ventilated.

How Long After Painting Is It Safe For Budgies?

There’s no fixed amount of time regarding how long you need to wait before reintroducing your budgie to a painted room.

How long you need to wait will depend on the following factors:

  • Paint’s brand
  • Amount of VOC
  • Room’s temperature

The key is to ensure the paint is dry and the fumes have completely dissipated.

Some brands have a standard curing time that applies to all their paints, while others may have starkly different curing times, even if they are of the same brand.

You can read the label and start by observing the recommended time. Lower amounts of VOC will mean faster curing times, and lower temperatures will increase the curing time.

Water-based latex and acrylic paints are made from non-toxic materials and will have minimal off-gassing. Paints with low levels of VOC will also be better for budgies. Ensure that your budgie isn’t kept in the same room, and err on the side of caution before reintroducing them to a newly-painted room.