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Importance of MSDS sheets....Not Enough Warnings!

1973 Views 22 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  Tony_S
Many(edited) have been under the assumption that with the new waterborne and low VOC compliant coatings we are safer in using them. Well, I have been reviewing some of the MSDS sheets for over the counter as well as commercial woodworking finishes that I use in the shop, and the ingredients scare the hell out of me. The EPA in their infinite wisdom has gone after products which contain VOC's claiming these products are bad for us and they have pushed all the manufactures to reformulate to waterborne and products eliminating/lowering these VOC's.

Well, I'm here to tell that those companies have now introduced components that may in fact reduce the VOC's, but, yet may increase the likelihood of Cancer, Liver damage, repertory irritations and poisoning.

Next time you finish one of your projects, I suggest you obtain MSDS sheets for the products you are going to use and research the chemical components.

Please be CAREFUL.

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"We have all been under the assumption that with the new waterborne and low VOC compliant coatings we are safer in using them".

I didn't know that (We have all been under the assumption}

I use mostly waterborne and they all say to use protection/ventilation etc . I don't know why anyone would think you can take a bath in the stuff.
Well, I was born in 1952, and so being a child of the '60s…

I'm sure I chewed on a crib with lead paint in it. My toys were painted with lead paint. And I no doubt sanded wood on a house with the same.

If all the chemicals I've drank, smelled, licked, ate, touched, smoked or used haven't killed me yet, I should be good to go so long as my triple-bypassed heart from 10 years ago continues to keep my blood pumping.
It's just a word to inform; old age in your sleep is better way to go than landing in a bed with tubes sticking out of every orifice for the rest of your life or just barely able to walk around with oxygen tanks, or Liver transplants, Dialysis, or some other disabling infirmity exacerbated by something which could have been prevented by a little more attention to the details.

Don't shoot the messenger; this is for those that have been lax in their safety practices, and do not have your particular wisdom or mindsets. It makes no difference what year you were born or when you grew up; I still wouldn't suggest you step in front of a speeding train.
Can you tell us some of the products that you have been looking at so that we can look at the MSDS sheets and get an idea of which chemicals you are concerned about?

I use certain "green" water-based finishes such as Vermont Coatings floor finish, furniture finish, and exterior coating. I do see that it contains triethylamine which can have acute effects on your vision in high concentrations, but effects were reversible. The high concentrations were found within a polyurethane foam manufacturing plant (so probably way above anything that you could replicate while finishing one piece of woodwork with any sort of ventilation). It does not contain any chemicals that are known to cause cancer or chronic conditions.

Compared to Minwax water-based oil modified polyurethane which contains 2-Methoxymethylethoxypropanol
, 1-Methyl-2-Pyrrolidone, and Dimethylethanol Amine which are listed as cancer causing chemicals among their other effects.

I also use Tried and True brand oil finishes as they state that there are no chemicals know to cause any harmful health effects or cancer and are safe for use around children and pets. They are also zero-voc.

Paints are easy to get in zero-voc versions, but I have not checked to see which of those contain other additives that may be troubling. Thanks for the reminder. There are several paint companies that are better than the big names, such as Mythic paint and Safecoat, but they are more expensive and still need to be checked to see what they contain.

I have found that if you try to call the company directly and ask what is in their products, most people don't know. It takes a lot of pushing to get a chemist from the plant on the shone to ask about the chemicals in the product.
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There's no free lunch. It's known that the VOCs are dangerous and cause all sorts of health problems. What they replace it with may well too, so don't assume the new stuff is that much or any safer. But I would also bet the new stuff stays in the finish and cures rather than evaporating into the air you breathe.

If you want a finish you can almost eat with a spoon, Tried and True original danish oil is old fashioned polymerized linseed oil. It looks nice, but of course you give up a lot of things modern finishes have going for them and get very little wood protection. Again, there's no free lunch.
I was looking at some of the Minwax product that I use on a rare occasions, also, my CAB Lacquers, Post and Pre Cat Lacquers from several companies where one cautioned that it created arsenic as a byproduct along with other cautions components known to cause cancer.

I just wonder if in fact the components do fully crosslink to form a benign coating and we do not find we have created just another Love Cannel where this time it is attached to our applied finishes.

Again, I am not trying to say the sky is falling, but, we must have more information and the correct information. It is even more important to those that apply the finishes on a regular basis. I guess interpretation/definition of intermittent really means. BLO and Shellac are looking better and better, taking exception to the thinners.
I'm sorry, but this is a silly post. If you think that because something is waterborne it is inherently safer that a solvent based product, then you have no business discussing the safety of any product. There is no such thing as a safe chemical. Wear gloves and eye protection, use a respirator if you're spraying and always ensure good ventilation.

BLO uses metallic catalysts. Shellac is dissolved in isopropyl alcohol, which is poisonous. And water will kill you if you drink too much.

VOC regulations have to do with air quality and nothing to do with how safe the chemicals are to handle/ingest/get in your face. Always use best practices when handling any chemical.
I noticed your signature line "God is great, the Beer is good and people are Crazy"

Make sure you use your protective devices when drinking beer"
Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) have us switching from MSDS's to SDS's.

Some Companies have already done so If go to General finishes MSDS list will see using SDS format. Hazardous chemicals now listed in section 3 of SDS versus section 2 of MSDS.

General consensus is use lowest VOC rating paints and wood finishes. Green folks and government look at more than paints and finishes when building new home to increase indoor air quality.

Big problem with non waterborne finishes is the amount of solvents & binders out gassing or off gassing even after coating has dried. Saving grace of waterborne finishes is they out gas less for shorter period.

Anybody know how they get oil out the Danish people? Always though Danish oil a myth and just bunch of chemicals!
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I have been aware of the changes to SDS and have seen them used in Canada. Thanks for the info and background as to why.

@ AlaskaGuy
Evidently you don't listen to Country Western music. Have a few more on me.

@ Pezking7p
Thanks for your dissertation. However not all who finish are chemists or realize what "Always use best practices when handling any chemical" means. Lighten up.
Anybody know how they get oil out the Danish people? Always though Danish oil a myth and just bunch of chemicals!
- Wildwood
The term "danish oil" can mean a lot of things from traditional boiled linseed oil to a mixture of boiled linseed oil, polyurethane, and dye or stain and maybe some other meanings. So yeah, often a lot of chemicals. The one I referred to is a brand, Tried and True, that makes an old school boiled linseed oil that is pure and without chemicals not found in the flax seeds. They unfortunately call it Danish oil. Most other modern things you get in a can that say Boiled Linseed Oil have a variety of petroleum based thinners and metallic salts in them to act as dryers to get it to cure faster.

As to how they get the oil out of the Danish people, I'm not sure either, maybe not let them shower for a while then squeeze it out of their hair?
Pezking - don't start insulting people that are just trying help increase safety. Maybe you did not mean it to sound rude, but we are all just trying to help.

The real problem is that the chemical and coating companies don't want their customers to know what is really in their products or whether they are safe long term. It is not in their interest to test their chemicals and their effects any more than required by law. They have lots of many and spend it in Congress so that the laws don't require full safety testing for most chemicals used in products today. If products with chemicals that caused cancer had a large warning label on their front, then many more people would switch to more natural coatings. Imagine a shelf that had a lineup of different products and 9 out of ten of them said in big letters on the front "Proven to cause Cancer" and the last one did not. Which one would you choose then? Even if the coatings is not as durable or nice, I prefer not having cancer over a different finish on a piece of furniture.

I have used Tried and True Danish and Varnish oils and the finish holds up quite well under heavy use. It is a different kind of coating than a film finish, but I have a walnut slab that I finished to use as an island top in a temporary apartment and it has had 4 years of hard abuse and standing water, spilled red wine, tomato juice leaking off the cutting board, cat claws, etc and it had held up remarkably well with little to no staining, scratching, or wear. I also have a yellow birch hardwood floor that I finished with their Danish oil 8 years ago without re-coating in the meantime and it looks great, probably better than a urethane job as it is on a farm with lots of dirt and grit. It self-polishes in the areas that you walk like a stair handrail that gets smoother over time from your hand rubbing it smooth. On top of all that, I know that both of them are totally natural and will not cause any harm - zero chance.
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Again, I am not trying to say the sky is falling, but, we must have more information and the correct information.

Or, you need to learn how to read the information?

Nuclear waste, and electricity are both low VOC… But, you still need to protect yourself.
I'm sitting here looking at the back of a can of polyurethane.. about 1/4 of the label is the directions for use. The remainder, the majority of the label, is warnings, "Danger" statements, precautions, first aid, delayed effects, overexposure statements, more warnings and the obligatory "Keep out of reach of children" statement. I don't think there is any room left for any more. I never assumed anything about lower VOC water based finishes.. still the same label, just the VOC numbers changed.

Geez guys, lets use this as an opportunity to increase safety awareness, not insult one's intelligence for not knowing.

It's obvious that some will think - Volatile Organic Compound (Volatile=deadly) - Water Bourne (water=safe), while this is surely NOT the case. Read labels and heed the warnings.

And remember, only known carcinogens are listed, 40 years ago those same products were not known to cause cancer and deemed "safe".

and as our parents once said…. Use protection son…
+1 RPhillips

"As to how they get the oil out of the Danish people, I'm not sure either, maybe not let them shower for a while then squeeze it out of their hair?". :)


How about putting the real/true warnings on the can rather than the subterfuge BS of an MSDS, SDS, etc like Diammonium zinc biscarbonate (Carbonic acid, ammonium zinc salt (2:2:1); [ChemIDplus])>> causes Burns/ Skin Burns instead of causes skin irritation. Oh by the way, that's in General Finishes Enduro Water-based Lacquer Flat. I know how to read them best we become honest to the unaware.

@Matt Rogers
I suppose this is not Irritating, " Or, you need to learn how to read the information?", or this: " " or "I'm sorry, but this is a silly post.".

I'm not rude but am very serious. If jokes and ridicule are thrown I just do not let it fly for the amusement of those who do not wish to add constructive information vs banter.
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Whatever happened to being responsible for yourself?
Whatever happened to being responsible for yourself?

- OSU55
The lawyers figured out they could make a fortune off of peoples stupidity, something of which there is an ever increasing supply of!

You are right on "responsible for self".

However, If some do not know, shouldn't we attempt to educate vs not saying anything?

Let's not bring in lawyers.
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