Paints & Coatings Resource Center

Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive

by Ron Joseph

November, 2005

Labels on Paint Cans

Q. I wanted to use Janovic paints but there was no information about what was in the can. Since I have asthma, I want to check it out. Any suggestions?

A. Paint manufacturers do not need to list the contents of paints on the can label, but they are required to list all "hazardous ingredients" on their Materials Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). "Hazardous Ingredients" are not necessarily hazardous in terms of cancer, or other serious illnesses; however, for one reason or another (flammability, skin irritation, allergic reactions, etc.,) they are deemed to be hazardous by OSHA. Even ingredients that one might normally consider to be benign are listed on an MSDS. Water is not deemed to be hazardous and is not listed. Many of the resins and pigments that are used in the paint formulation are generally not listed; therefore, you will not get to see the complete paint formulation.

You can usually download an MSDS from the company's web site, or you can get the MSDS from web sites such as MSDSonline. Your paint supplier is also required to have an MSDS on file for every chemical product that he/she has on site. Therefore, you have several way in which you can obtain the MSDS.

When you study the MSDS you will find that for each listed ingredient there is a description of the relevant hazard and what health and safety steps to take if you are unusually exposed to that chemical.

Best wishes,

Ron Joseph

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