Biocides and Skin Sensitivity

Biocide and Skin Sensitivity

If untreated, water-based products provide an environment for growth of micro-organisms which can both impair the product and cause adverse health effects.  Water-based artists’ materials therefore contain biocides as preservatives, including (but not exclusively) those from the family of chemicals known as izothiazolinones.  Biocides can cause allergic skin reactions in individuals who are already sensitized to them, even at levels below current legal thresholds for warnings on the label.  People who know they suffer from such allergies should exercise care and take suitable precautions when handling any water-based art material or other product.

New Biocide Statement on GOLDEN Acrylic Color Labels (10/2020)

You may have noticed recent changes to our labels for colored acrylic products. We have added new information to address Biocides they contain, along with the statement “May produce an allergic reaction.” These statements appear on the back of our 2 oz. and 5 oz. tubes and on the back of the label for products sold in jars and bottles.

Preservatives are critical in waterborne paints as they prevent microbial growth that can both ruin the paint and cause illness. Biocides have always been present in acrylic paints, but new EU regulations require that we label our products with the type of preservative they contain. Oil paints do not contain Biocides because bacteria need water and air to thrive and in oil paints, there is neither. Even if you leave a container of oil paint open, where air and water could then be available, the oil paint will skin over, thus sealing the surface and eliminating the ability to have water present.

A Biocide statement is not currently detailed on our non-color acrylic products (Mediums, Gels, Pastes, Gesso, Grounds, Varnishes). In the future, our non-color product labels will also be changing to disclose the Biocides they contain.

Please note that incidence of allergic reaction to Biocides is extremely rare. When it occurs, it manifests itself as a skin reaction. If you have further questions about Biocides and skin sensitivity, please call 1-800-959-6543 and ask to speak to our Regulatory Affairs Director Ben Gavett or Christian Campbell, our Senior Regulatory Affairs Specialist.