The asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program strikes a balance between the most stringent of international criteria for potentially hazardous or sensitising chemicals, and the need for consumers to have choices in categories in which products contain complex chemical formulae.
The indoor decorative coatings standard ASP:04-01/102 is primarily targeted towards indoor air quality and inhaled emissions/off-gassing. Evaporation from solvent-based paint is a source of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) that can cause throat and lung irritation and an increased risk of asthma attacks in sensitive individuals. Water-based paints with a significantly lower VOC content were created in response to demand for healthier and greener paint options. However, when solvent is removed from a paint formula, a preservative is required to stop microbial growth. As these compounds prevent growth of micro-organisms they can be toxic in nature. Paint that does not contain a preservative will spoil or allow mold to grow on its surface after application.
The Izothiozolinone family of preservatives that includes methylisothiazolinone (MIT), Chloromethylisothiazolinone (CMIT) and Benzisothiazolinone (BIT) are used extensively in paint preservation. There are currently very limited alternatives available for use in water-based paints. Repeated exposure to Izothiozolinones in high concentrations can lead to skin sensitization and atopic dermatitis. The EU requires that cans of paint containing Izothiozolinones must carry a label indicating that it is a skin sensitizer. This means that some certified paints in the EU may also carry the EU label EUH 208: “Contains . May produce an allergic reaction.”
The indoor decorative coatings standard ASP:04-01/102 is primarily targeted towards indoor air quality and inhaled emissions/off-gassing. However, due to the environmental health nature of the ASP:04-01/102 Standard and related asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program it is necessary to review the complete contents of submitted paints. This is to ensure that there are minimal allergenic or sensitizing chemicals present, or that their concentration is low enough to warrant least possible concern for sensitive individuals.
ASL therefore ensures that the use of Izothiozolinone preservatives is limited to low concentrations, however those individuals with a known skin sensitivity to Izothiozolinones should avoid direct skin contact. Given the requirement for chemicals such as preservatives in water-based paints, certified paintsmay contain chemicals that are harmful upon direct skin contact. ASL advises that consumers adhere to manufacturers guidelines on correct application methods and the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to limit exposure during the application and drying phase of certified paints.
Allergy Standards will continue to monitor the regulation of in-can preservatives such as Izothiozolinones and update the ASP:04-01/102 standard accordingly as alternative chemistries develop.