Art supplies containing biocides

terracota paste for painting

Inner unhappiness and bad habits (smoking and drinking alcohol) led Van Gogh to a torturous untimely death (read our article How not to end as Van Gogh?).

However, psychological sufferings are not the only way to reduce the lifespan and envenom the life for years. Sometimes great painters (and unknown artists too!) pay a big price for their passion to paint.

I am talking about occupational safety and self-protection from potentially hazardous materials – PAINTS – which may lead an artist through all his/her life, no matter about their renown.

In their scientific article “Cancer Risks among Artists“, 1992, Barry A. Miller and Aaron Blair talk about potential health risks for painters known from 1900s- paint pigments which contain lead, carbon black, cadmium, chromium; synthetic solvents for oil paints; cancirogens like formaldehyde, asbestos, benzene, etc.

Henri Matisse and Bob Ross could probably avoid serious surgical complications and untimely death if knowing “the soul” of the materials they used. You may, probably, add some other artists to the list of those painters who died from cancer. Write in the comments below!

Nowadays, a new group of hazardous substances in art – biocides – may be added to the list.

Why biocides are added to art supplies?

Biocide in water-based paints (like acrylics, or modeling pastes) is used as an additional raw material to control microbiological processes, in other words, to prevent bacteria growth and spoilage.

Microbes and their metabolic byproducts can contribute to the breakdown of the polymer dispersion (polymer paints like acrylics, adhesives, coating, etc).

Biocides in art supplies

  • 5-chloro-2-methyl-4-isothiazolin-3-one (most usable synonym – C(M)IT)
  • 2-methylisothiazol-3(2H)-one (most usable synonym – MIT)
  • 1,2-benzisothiazolin-3-one (most usable synonym – BIT)

5-chloro-2-methyl-4-isothiazolin-3-one / C(M)IT

terracota paste for art Chemical substance name and synonyms

  • C(M)IT
  • 5-chloro-2-methyl-4-isothiazolin-3-one
  • 5-chloro-2-methyl-4-isothiazolin-3-one hydrochloride
  • 5-chloro-2-methylisothiazolin-3-one
  • 5-chloro-N-methylisothiazolone
  • 5243-K-Cg
  • methylchloro-isothiazolinone
  • methylchloroisothiazolinone

Hazard classification of C(M)IT

Danger! According to the classification provided by companies to ECHA in CLP notifications this substance is fatal if swallowed, is fatal in contact with skin, is fatal if inhaled, is very toxic to aquatic life, causes severe skin burns and eye damage, is very toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects, causes serious eye damage, may cause an allergic skin reaction and may cause respiratory irritation.

Properties of concern for C(M)IT

A majority of data submitters agree this substance is Skin sensitizing

Labelling required for C(M)IT

2-methylisothiazol-3(2H)-one / MIT

beton paste for art Chemical substance name and synonyms

  • MIT
  • 2-methyl-4-isothiazolin-3-one
  • 2-methyl-4-isothiazolin-3-one hydrochloride
  • 243-K-Cg
  • methyl-isothiazolinone
  • methylisothiazolidinone
  • methylisothiazolinone
  • methylisothiazolone
  • N-methylisothiazolone

Hazard classification of MIT

Danger! According to the harmonised classification and labelling (ATP13) approved by the European Union, this substance is fatal if inhaled, is toxic if swallowed, is toxic in contact with skin, causes severe skin burns and eye damage, is very toxic to aquatic life, is very toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects, causes serious eye damage and may cause an allergic skin reaction.

Properties of concern for MIT

A majority of data submitters agree this substance is Skin sensitizing.

Labelling required for MIT


These chemical substances are usually included in a formulation of the same product keeping the ratio of C(M)IT/MIT equal to 3:1.


1,2-benzisothiazolin-3-one / BIT

beton paste for painting Chemical substance name and synonyms

  • BIT
  • 1,2-benzisothiazolin-3-one
  • 1,2-benzisothiazoline-3-one
  • benzisothiazolinone
  • benzisothiazolone
  • Proxel

Hazard classification of BIT

Danger! According to the harmonised classification and labelling (CLP00) approved by the European Union, this substance is very toxic to aquatic life, is harmful if swallowed, causes serious eye damage, causes skin irritation and may cause an allergic skin reaction.

Properties of concern for BIT

Skin sensitizing

Labelling required for BIT


Art supplies with C(M)IT, MIT and BIT

Product name Terracotta paste
(with C(M)IT)

Beton paste, 4024 deep taupe
(with C(M)IT, MIT and BIT)
Company name, country Maimeri Spa, Italy Talens, Denmark
Art features Provides original color of terracotta Opaque paste which gives a raw concrete look
Warning textPuo provocare una reazione allergica Contains biocidal product C(M)IT/MIT (3:1) and BIT. May produce an allergic reaction
Language of warning textITENG, NED, DEU
Labeling/warnings label for local market in Poland AbsentAbsent

These chemical substances may be included in the formulation of the same product. For example, C(M)IT/MIT and BIT, or MIT and BIT.

BIT/MIT combination provides a broad-spectrum bactericide for industrial products. Since both BIT and MIT are members of the isothiazolinone chemical family, the mode of action is the same: the chemicals react with the cell proteins causing the inhibition of respiration and ATP synthesis.

What about art supply labeling in YOUR country? Any examples? …

How to avoid or minimize hazardous effect of art supplies?

  • use protective gloves
  • work in well ventilated studio
  • do not eat or sleep in a place where you work
  • adhere your working regime and make pauses during the work
  • find and use less hazardous alternatives
  • read and understand the labels, make your own research and ask for help if needed
  • try digital painting:)

References

2019-2021 © Dr. Alisa Palatronis /All rights reserved

Disclaimer and Usage policy

2019-2021 © Dr. Alisa Palatronis /All rights reserved

Disclaimer and Usage policy

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