Handyman Health Alert

By Meghan Rabbitt

Before you volunteerfor any more home decorating projects, guys, listen up: Men exposed to chemicals found in paint are two and half times more likely to have poor semen quality, according to new research published in the British medical journal Occupational Environmental Medicine. The glycol ethers—used as solvents in conventional paints and stains—affect sperm concentration and motility (its ability to get around), as well as the quality of its DNA. Even if you’re well past baby-making age, you’ll want to choose your paints carefully. Most brands also contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and studies have linked exposure to these chemicals with headaches, nausea, and damage to the kidneys, liver, and central nervous system in both men and women. So before you start in on your next home makeover, look for paints without glycol ethers and low- or no-VOCs. Read the labels on low-VOC paints carefully (VOC levels vary widely) to make sure you choose varieties with a VOC level of less than 10 mg per liter.