Paints and coatings

Indoor and outdoor paints, preservatives and coatings have several associated chemical hazards, which vary across global regions and regulatory frameworks.  For example, as of December 2021, still fewer than half of countries globally have lead paint laws.

A number of chemicals that may be found in paints have human health concerns.  Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) used in paints and coatings can cause respiratory problems for building occupants and painters; where alkylphenol ethoxylates (APE) are present, they may have an endocrine disrupting effect.  

Some wood preservatives designed for outdoor use are chemically intensive, from chemicals used to provide waterproofing and pesticidal functions, and concerns have been raised on the effects of preservative compounds such as pentachlorophenol and chromated copper arsenate (CCA), which are phased out in some regions, but not all.

Paints may also contain phthalates to provide a plasticising effect, and PFAS may be added in some products to improve the flow and spread or waterproofing properties.

The resources below explore some of these issues, and how to select a safer product.