Characterization of odorous and potentially harmful substances in artists' acrylic paint
Acrylic paints are fast drying water based paints that are easy to handle and have a high covering capacity and therefore possess many characteristics that make them applicable in a wide range of applications, such as varnishes or artists paints. Due to their emitted volatile organic compounds, these paints are associated with different work-related diseases and are known to emit an unpleasant odor. In this study six acrylic paints for artists were analyzed regarding their odor-active constituents. Therefore, the samples were extracted with dichloromethane and purified via solvent assisted flavor evaporation prior to analysis of the distillates by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), gas chromatography-olfactometry (GC-O), and GC-GC-MS/O. Additionally all samples were sensorially characterized by a trained sensory panel. The identified odorous substances were primarily benzene derivatives (styrene, ethylbenzene, allylbenzene, propylbenzene) with a plastic-like, aromatic and solvent-like odor. Thereby, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (naphthalene, indane, and tetralin derivatives) contributed to the plastic- and mothball-like odor whereas acrylic monomers (butyl acrylate) were found to be responsible for a mushroom-like and geranium leaf-like odor. As most of these substances are also known to be harmful, a reduction or replacement of these substances by less toxic and non-odor active ingredients is likely to turn out to be advisable in order to reduce the odor and potential negative physiological effects of paints.