Most water based paints on the market contain some amount of biocide to preserve the paint during transportation and storage whilst it’s in the tin. Without such preservatives, these paints would deteriorate inside the tin.
These biocides can create an unpleasant smell, and will even compromise the performance of the paint.
All Farrow & Ball paints and primers & undercoats other than the Limewash contain the very minimum amount of biocides needed to preserve their paint inside the tin.
Some of these biocides are known sensitizers, such as H317, which may cause an allergic skin reaction to an existing allergy sufferer if a sufficient amount of paint is allowed to come into contact with their skin.
Farrow & Ball use Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) in its tins. This is also found in products such as shampoo, hand cleaners, shower gels, skin creams, etc, all of which are used directly onto the body.
Where F&B paints are handled and used correctly the risk to human health is absolutely minimal, but it is always recommendable that anyone with a known allergy wears hypoallergenic gloves, long sleeves, and eye protection, and keeps the room ventilated until the paint is dry. For further information, please see the Product Advice Sheets, Safety Data Sheets, and Regulatory Data Sheets downloadable from http://www.farrow-ball.com.