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View Full Version : Your Paints May Contain Toxic Chemicals. ...How to Avoid Harming Yourself/Environment


AnnieA
02-09-2019, 02:49 PM
This article covers many of the basics that newbies frequently wonder about:
https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-paints-toxic-chemicals-avoid-harming-environment

Pinguino
02-09-2019, 02:55 PM
At risk of being monotonous, I will repeat myself: This forum has many questions from newbies who recently took up oil painting, only to discover that there is a problem with vapors, or a chemical sensitivity.

In that case, the ultimate solution is to forget about oil painting (and probably forget about acrylics, since they also have issues). A lot of great art has been done with things such as pencils. Cheaper to use, too.

AnnieA
02-09-2019, 03:33 PM
Pinguino, I believe in most cases the problems stem not from oil paints themselves, but from solvents and mediums containing solvent or other irritating chemicals. Many newbies are unaware that they don't need to use solvent-based materials in order to paint with oils, as there are alternative products and other workarounds. Similarly, although some oil paints contain toxic pigments, it's easy to find non-toxic substitutions, which are frequently less expensive anyway.

To suggest to a newbie that he/she should switch to watercolors before knowing what the actual problem is seems to be jumping the gun, imho.

WFMartin
02-09-2019, 04:21 PM
At risk of being monotonous, I will repeat myself: This forum has many questions from newbies who recently took up oil painting, only to discover that there is a problem with vapors, or a chemical sensitivity.

In that case, the ultimate solution is to forget about oil painting (and probably forget about acrylics, since they also have issues). A lot of great art has been done with things such as pencils. Cheaper to use, too.

Yeah, I kinda' agree with that concept. However, there may be ways to avoid the sensitivity that some experience with the use of the materials that are often related to oil paint.

Loving the smells, and "feels" of all the materials related to oil paint as I do, I suppose if I suddenly discovered that I was becoming sensitive to such a thing as the solvents that are involved in oil painting, my first inclination would be to "invent" some way of utilizing only Walnut Oil for "conditioning" my paints for the purpose of creating the effects that I appreciate so much, when painting.

I can't think of anything more "bland", or "neutral", or "less toxic" than Walnut Oil. If it was good enough for Leonardo, it's good enough for me.:lol: :lol:

Pinguino
02-09-2019, 04:52 PM
Well, perhaps I did jump the gun. :o

Based on my observations of the forum over an extended period, it seems that the questions of vapors and toxicity are often asked by newbies. Maybe some of them got an oil painting kit as a gift, and they feel that they ought to use whatever materials (and colors) are in the kit. Been there, done that, many years ago.

Then again, there's the kind of person who lives in a very cold climate, and decides to take up swimming during the winter months, to stay in shape. So that person buys a bathing suit. Only after that, does the person inquire as to whether there's a heated pool anywhere in town.

About a block away from where I play soccer, there's an outfit that sells skateboards and stuff, and also custom-paints the skateboards. When they are painting, if the wind is from that direction I can smell it more than a block away. And that's just for one skateboard! On the other hand, given the kind of "music" that skateboarders listen to, perhaps it is not so tragic if they poison themselves. :evil:

MarcF
02-10-2019, 09:15 AM
The world is a dangerous place.
Nobody gets out alive.
Do what you enjoy and minimize unnecessary risk.
Wear a barrier like nitrile gloves, work in a ventilated room, and paint some pictures. And don’t worry so much! We’ll all be dead soon anyway.

sidbledsoe
02-10-2019, 09:22 AM
In that case, the ultimate solution is to forget about oil painting (and probably forget about acrylics, since they also have issues). Yes the world is rife with hazardous materials that harm both people and the environment.
Some people can't even walk down the soap aisle in the grocery store without a problem breathing. I sing in choral groups and there are people who can't tolerate anyone near them who is wearing any cologne/perfume. Some are sensitive to other harsh products.
In these cases, yes, avoid all hazardous products, which is by no means limited to paints, but may well include the following, and many other environmental things:
Air Fresheners
Dish Soap
Toilet Paper (some scented types)
Household Cleaning Products (Most)
Antibacterial products
Originally Posted by MarcF We’ll all be dead soon anyway. Drain Cleaners (injest them and you will be dead or will wish that you were)
Oven Cleaners (ditto)
Bleach
Ammonia
Cosmetics
Auto exhaust
Spray Paints
Kerosene Heaters
many more too numerous to mention, but many that are decidedly more hazardous and more toxic than artists materials.

Some avoid using very low toxic artist products like Gamsol, but then do not avoid using most of the above products, and use something like Murphy's
Oil Soap to clean brushes etc. with, which has sodium hydroxide and citronella oil, which is also an insecticide. (lung damage has been reported from inhalation of citronella oil)

just another friendly heads up :)

Ted Bunker
02-10-2019, 10:57 AM
I only worry about what wastes I put down my drain, since I'm in the country and have a septic field and a deep well. Cleanup water and rinse water goes in a pail with kitty litter.

Cadmium Orange is not a condiment.

JustAStudent
02-10-2019, 07:31 PM
To be fair, I think this post was inspired by a couple tubes of Emerald Green (Winsor though, so probably not Copper Arsenite) I got in a lot... and releasing arsenic is a bit more toxic than having a bit of cadmium on your skin or the occasional whiff of turpentine. But yes, people can be a bit hyperconscious of risks that centuries ago weren't even understood. I guess that's part of having a life expectancy of 80 instead of 40. I studied as an electrical engineer, I've worked part time as an electronics assembler, and I've posted schematics and had people online warn me: "You're going to kill yourself", because I was working with mains (120 a/c) voltage... which to their mind was dangerous in any circumstances, regardless of experience or precaution... not just arcing it across your chest. Similarly, you don't expect someone is going to eat a pizza at their easel while adjusting their cadmium red placement with their thumb every day... but the guy you don't warn because it's not likely is the one that's gonna do it.

french.painter
02-11-2019, 03:10 PM
The world is a dangerous place.
Nobody gets out alive.
Do what you enjoy and minimize unnecessary risk.
Wear a barrier like nitrile gloves, work in a ventilated room, and paint some pictures. And don’t worry so much! We’ll all be dead soon anyway.
I agree.

And please be very careful with the incredibly dangerous DHMO, a chemical which is present in almost every non-oil paints and which can indeed kill you!
http://www.dhmo.org/facts.html
!

JustAStudent
02-11-2019, 03:47 PM
It loses its oomph if you don't type out the full name. Dihydrogen Monoxide.

But if you REALLY want to see the opposite end of the joke... do some research on "food grade" hydrogen peroxide. (Used in hydroponics, food production, lab environments, etc... about 10x more concentrated version of hydrogen peroxide you've got under the sink) Nasty stuff. Apparently some quacks tell people to take tablespoons of the stuff to combat toxins or some other nonsense... Thing is it rapidly dissociates into dozens of liters of O2 gas... either causing your intestines to rupture or gas to be forced into your bloodstream (causing strokes), or both.

Raffless
02-11-2019, 03:52 PM
The world is a dangerous place.
Nobody gets out alive.
Do what you enjoy and minimize unnecessary risk.
Wear a barrier like nitrile gloves, work in a ventilated room, and paint some pictures. And don’t worry so much! We’ll all be dead soon anyway.

This reminds me of Sin City. 🌆

bokaba
02-11-2019, 07:27 PM
I don't think many oil paints or solvents will cause much damage unless you ingest large quantities (or breath solvents in a closed room for a long period of time). I use paints with lead, mercury, and other so-called toxic substances and have been okay thus far by practicing basic safety procedures. I am even looking into a source for orpiment (yellow crystalline arsenic sulfide).