Are Paint Fumes Toxic For Cockatiels? (Explained!)

Cockatiels have sensitive respiratory systems, so when the air quality is bad, they can have trouble breathing very quickly. Some paints have strong fumes, while others are less dangerous. But are paint fumes toxic for cockatiels at all?

Are Paint Fumes Toxic For Cockatiels? Yes, paint fumes are toxic for cockatiels because they release volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and types with slow off-gassing are the most dangerous. Due to how cockatiels’ lungs and air sacs work, they inhale more toxins than humans. Therefore, you need to always remove your cockatiel from the room when painting.

Are Paint Fumes Toxic For Cockatiels?

Also, ventilate the area well, and don’t return your cockatiel to the space until the fumes have gone. If you have painted a room, let it cure.

Acrylic, craft paints for children, and latex paint, which are all made with water, are safer.

Is Paint Harmful To Cockatiels?

Paint is a known cause of death for cockatiels. The International Agency for Research on Cancer says that being around paint fumes makes people more likely to get mesothelioma and other types of cancer.

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

That’s why there is so much caution surrounding paint used in home renovations. Some of the steps to take are to wear masks, make sure the area has good ventilation, and avoid paints with high VOC levels.

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

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

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

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

Most of these problems are caused by the fact that many paints have harmful chemicals in them. That’s why it’s recommended to let the paint dry for 3 days.

However, off-gassing can happen for as long as 6 months after the initial applications. That is why it is critical to use paints that contain the fewest VOCs.

Only return your cockatiel to the room when you are sure it is not emitting any harmful toxins.

Low VOC paints

Some paints are listed as “low-VOC” paints. There are safer options for cockatiels, as lower-VOC paints will off-gas much faster than other paints, so areas where they are used will air out much faster.

But the label might not be right for every brand. The Indoor Air Conference found that some paints that said they had low VOC levels still gave off more VOCs than what was recommended.

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

Avian respiratory system

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

When a cockatiel inhales, oxygen-rich air is breathed through the lungs and into a system of air sacks. Any air that has little oxygen goes to the air sacs at the front. When the cockatiel 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 cockatiel inhales and exhales. Because their lungs are one-way, the air coming in and going out doesn’t mix in their lungs.

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

Safe Paint For Cockatiels

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

That is not to say water-based paint is harmless. Your cockatiel shouldn’t touch it or play with it, because the paint can be harmful if it gets in its mouth.

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

Is Acrylic Paint Toxic To Cockatiels?

People think that acrylic paints are less dangerous for cockatiels because they have the same pigments as water-based paints.

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

But as they dry, acrylics still give off paint fumes. In particular, these are things like propylene or ethylene glycol, which can make the lungs feel uncomfortable.

There are different chemicals in each brand of paint, and some brands give off more fumes than others.

The most common toxins found in acrylics include:

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

A lot of dangerous chemicals are used to color the paint. Therefore, it can be easy to spot which brands contain dangerous ingredients. For example, cobalt is often used to make blue paint, while cadmium is used to make yellow or red paint.

Still, paint that contains dangerous chemicals will have a label on its container. This label will tell you what ingredients are in the product, so you can pick the one with the fewest harmful ones.

Ethylene glycol or propylene are almost always present in acrylic paints.

Is Latex Paint Toxic To Cockatiels?

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

The only difference is that vinyl resin is added to latex, making it thinner than acrylic. This also means that acrylic paint is much more expensive than latex paint. It’s much easier to cover large areas, but it’s not as strong or resistant to water.

For cockatiels, you should know that both paints are composed of the same ingredients, just in different ratios. Latex paint may be safer than acrylic paint because it is less thick.

But some brands of latex have more dangerous chemicals than others.

Craft paints For Cockatiels

Most craft paints that are water-based are safe to use. If you don’t know what type of craft paints to use around your cockatiel check this one on Amazon.

Good craft paint choices include:

  • Gouache
  • Watercolor
  • Acrylic

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

Check the label and think about getting ones that are made for children. Paints for artists often have toxic chemicals in them, but they are usually only sold to professionals.

Even paint that isn’t dangerous can still give off fumes. They will be less potent than even latex and acrylic paints meant for home renovation.

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

How Long After Painting Is It Safe For Cockatiels?

There is no fixed amount of time regarding how long you need to wait before reintroducing your cockatiel to a painted room

How long you need to wait depends on the following factors:

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

The key is to make sure the paint is dry and that all of the fumes have gone away.

Some brands have a set curing time for all of their paints, while others, even from the same brand, may have curing times that are very different.

However, you can read the label and start by observing the recommended time. If there aren’t as many VOCs, the curing process will go faster, but if the temperature is low, the curing process will take longer.

Acrylic paints and water-based latex are made from non-toxic materials and will have minimal off-gassing.

Paints with low levels of VOC will also be better for cockatiels. Make sure that your cockatiel isn’t kept in the same room, and err on the side of caution before reintroducing them to a newly-painted room.

Keep Your Cockatiel Safe While Painting

Cockatiels should never be in the same room while you are painting. Some people will get rid of them together.

This is because the wet paint gives off VOCs, sanding the walls stirs up dust, and there is a lot of noise.

The best thing you can do is ask a friend or neighbor to house your cockatiels for a few days while you are painting and while the paint is drying.

This makes them less likely to be exposed to dangerous things in the air.

Even though it will be hard, there are some things you can do to help your freshly painted room air out faster.

And things you can do to make the transition less stressful for your cockatiel.

Effective Ways To Ventilate A Room

Ventilating your freshly painted room is key to making it safe for cockatiels to return to.

You will want to ventilate the room thoroughly during and immediately after the painting job.

Also, develop a system for consistent ventilation following the completion of your project.

Think about these ways to improve the airflow in your home and speed up the drying of paint:

  • Open the doors and windows to let air in. Wide-open doors and windows are best. If you can do that, make sure that you have doors and windows open at multiple places in the room to allow the fresh air to travel through the house.
  • Place exhaust fans in the window. These should be turned away from the house so that they blow fumes out of the house.
  • Turn on a stove exhaust fan. This will pull the odors out of the room and into the open air.
  • Turn on a ceiling fan. This will pull the smells up and away from the main living area.

However, you also use an air filter to improve the quality of the air in your home.

Simply ask a professional to install pleated filters into your HVAC system, then set your thermostat in position to run the fans in your house.

Even if the heat and air conditioning aren’t on, you should do this, especially if you have company over. Change the filter every three months.

Cockatiel Enthusiast

My name is Bojan. I have been around Cockatiels for the past 7 years. I love writing about Cockatiels and helping people understand how these beautiful birds live, what they like, and how to provide them the best possible care.

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