Question asked 2016-11-12 21:58:07 ...
Most recent comment 2016-11-12 22:06:00
Health and Safety
I have heard that Italy and some other EU countries are considering outlawing pure cadmium colors as too many artists are washing their brushes filled with the paint into the water system. For this reason I have learned to clean my brushes using no water. Have you heard this and if so would you comment. If not would you recommend a safe way to clean brushes that is good for the environment? Thank you.
Answers and Comments
EditDeleteModerator AnswerThere was a motion to ban cadmium colors but it did not pass (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/cadmium-pigment-eu-ban-over-351527). The source of cadmium in the environment is still disputed as many industries use cadmium for various reasons. But one still should exercise the necessary pre-cautions regarding proper disposal. As for cleaning your brushes I assume you are painting in oil? If so we recommend the following once you have completed a painting session: Remove excess paint from your brush using a paper towel, moisten the paper towel with water to prevent the remote chance of spontaneous combustion, and dispose in a metal container. The next step is to have a designated container on hand with either mineral spirits or oil (linseed or vegetable) which you can then agitate your brush in to remove most of the residual paint. After completing these first two steps it is fine to then rinse with soap and water. As for disposing of the paper towels and the rinse-solvent/oil container, nearly every county in the US offers free hazmat disposal of paint and related materials so call up your local waste disposal center. You can also read more about Health and Safety issues in our Resources section (there is a "Health and Safety" document available in pdf form).
EditDeleteModerator AnswerWhile I do applaud actions to protect the environment, the move by Swedish lawmakers to ban cadmium pigments from artists palettes was misguided. When estimating the total load of cadmium entering the environment, the proportion coming from artist's paints is barely if at all measurable since the overwhelming preponderance comes from battery production and other industrial uses and not the paint industry. To continue Kristin's suggestions, when using a non drying oil to rinse one's brushes, make sure to really wash your brushes thoroughly to make sure that no non-drying oil makes it into your paint in the next painting session.
EditDeleteModerator AnswerBelow is an article on this topic reprinted from the November 2015 issue of ACTS FACTS, the newsletter of Arts, Theater and Craft Safety, an industrial hygienist founded non-profit dedicated to safety in the arts. I highly recommend everyone subscribe to their newsletter and visit their webpage (http://artscraftstheatersafety.org/).
The updated link for the waste disposal guide, Environmental Health & Safety in the Arts: A Guide for K-12 Schools, Colleges and Artisans: Proper Management of Waste and Residuals from Art Studios and Shop Practices, referenced in the article is: http://www.northeastern.edu/ehs/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/EHSinthearts.pdf
While protecting the environment is important please remember to also protect yourself with appropriate skin, clothing and eye protection (and respiratory protection if needed), when working with hazardous materials.
CADMIUM PIGMENTS OK'D IN EUROPEAN ART MATERIALS
The Art Newspaper,http://theartnewspaper.com/new/new/160515/, "European artists free to paint the town red (and yellow and orange)," by Anny Shaw, October 29, 2015
After meeting with artists and printmakers, European politicians announced they will not enforce a Europe-wide ban on cadmium art pigments. "While we discussed the technical case for cadmium pigments, many artists were passionately able to stress the economic and artistic importance of cadmiums as they uniquely bring warmth, light, strength and colour to paintings to stand the test of time," says Rachel Volpe of Spectrum Paints, a British paint-maker that campaigned against the ban.
This is consistent with the use of art materials around the world. Most countries, including the U.S., exempt art materials from other consumer safety bans. The U.S. Toxic Substance Control Act restrictions on lead, cadmium, and many other toxic substances do not apply to artists materials.
The EU considered a restriction on cadmium following pressure from Sweden, which argued that artists pollute the food chain when they rinse their brushes in the sink. Cadmium ends up in sewage sludge and is then spread on agricultural land, according to a report submitted by Sweden to the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) last year. Clearly, this is a valid concern.
Michael Craine, the managing director of Spectrum Paints, says the real problem is nickel cadmium batteries. While this is a bigger source of cadmium pollution, it doesn't change the fact that tons of cadmium art pigments are also entering the waste stream worldwide. Artists who care about the environment will follow the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules for proper disposal of paint waste and collection and disposal of pigment-containing liquid and solid waste. For guidance, see www.ehs.neu/general_safety/art_safety/documents/EHSinthearts.pdf or search www.epa.gov for "EHS in the arts" and it's about #3 on the list.”
This Page Last Modified On: