The Swedish Chemicals Agency logo
The Swedish Chemicals Agency logo


Paint is a chemical product and a mixture of pigment, binder and solvent. Sometimes antifungal agent is added in water-based paints. Antifungal agents can cause allergies. Often a solvent such as glycol ethers is added to prevent the paint from forming lumps.

Pigments are chemical substances which give paints their colours. Paint contains only organic pigment which is not hazardous to health or the environment. Bonding agent in the colours of today is not hazardous.

Solvent gives paint its smooth texture. In the past the most common product used was white spirit, which gave good results but created problems for its users, since white spirit can cause dry and cracked skin. White spirit is flammable and toxic to marine organisms, and has long-term effects on the marine environment. Today paints with water-based solvents are used more often.

White spirit can give rise to chemical pneumonia if you happen to swallow it, and can cause dry or cracked skin. It is also toxic to marine organisms. Oil-based paints containing white spirit can give off irritating substances during the time it takes for the paint to dry.

  • Do not allow children to be present if you use paint, varnish or spray containing white spirit as a solvent.
  • Ensure that you air the spaces you are working in while painting or varnishing.
  • Do not steep the brushes in solvent in places accessible to children.
  • Hand the leftover paints in to your nearest environmental recycling station.

Ask questions when you purchase a product. As a consumer you should receive answers to what the paint contains so that you can make a conscious choice.

View all Articles and chemical products