A new study from Germany outlined key harmful ingredients found in acrylic paint through chemical analysis. The substances found included formaldehyde, benzene derivatives, mineral spirits (Naphtha), styrene, vinyl chloride, glycol ether, acrylic acid, butyl acrylate, MMA, and ammonia. The study also highlights ways in which acrylic paint can make users sick, and strongly suggests a reduction of some of the most harmful ingredients. NOTE: According to the now commonplace manufacturers' 'zero-VOC' statements, most of the above chemicals should not be present at all in the acrylic paints we buy, or only in negligible quantities.
'High grade' acrylics were to an extent found to be safer, and less off-gassing than the cheapest consumer products with their lower grade ingredients. These have a tendency to polymerize incompletely, thus leaving harmful ingredients in the paint film.
Here the link to the full study:
electron micrograph of acrylic monomer beads (Zhejiang University)
Characterization of Odorous and Potentially Harmful Substances in Artists' Acrylic Paint
(excerpt from the concluding section | P Bauer / A