Which paints and coatings can harm me?

Paints / coatings can be made up of many different chemicals. The risks to you will therefore vary. There are a number of things that you should look out for:

	[b]VOC content[/b] – Solvents are used in many coatings (see also [Solvents ](http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/cis27.pdf) ). They contain different levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (also known as VOC’s) which dry and evaporate into a vapour that can be breathed. As a general rule the higher the VOC content, the more you are at risk from the solvents within the coating. All manufacturers are required to put easy to understand labels on their products to show the VOC content.

	[b]Other nasty substances [/b]– As well as solvents a coating will contain a number of other substances. Some of these could also harm you or create a fire or explosion risk. Manufacturers must also label their products to highlight any risks linked to these. For more information see [What is a hazardous substance?](http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/detail/substances.htm).

If the labelling does not give you enough information, make sure that you get hold of the safety data sheet – see [Chemical safety data sheets](http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/basics/datasheets.htm).

You do not have to worry about paints / coatings where no symbol or warning phrase is used.