View Full Version : Ultramarine phaseout

09-20-2002, 12:10 AM
I heard in pastel class today that ultramarine and the cadmiums are going to be phased out in the U.S. because of dust and absorbption hazards. Does anyone know anything about this?

09-20-2002, 11:35 AM
Hey, Sail Mary, where have you been? Gee, long time no see.Good to see you. Are you okay?
Sorry not heard a thing about your Q.

WOW hugz, welcome back :)

09-22-2002, 11:29 PM
I know for a fact that cadmium dust or spray if inhale will cause lung cancer but I did not know that ultramarine was toxic. the cadmium problem is a sad thing because those reds are so beautiful but health is definitely more important. I do not use any lead, cadmium or heavy metal pigments.pastels I use are Rembrandt which do not contain hazardous pigments.

09-23-2002, 03:22 AM
Are you sure it's ulramarine? Cobalt would make much more sense.

01-15-2007, 09:03 PM
It is now 2007 and these are still on the market and no sign of them leaving thankfully.

01-16-2007, 12:33 PM
I haven't heard a thing. Ugly rumor, I hope.

Besides, I think the artists who have been painting with them for decades would revolt. (Those of us who are still alive, anyway.)

All that said, I believe in the EU they're phasing out cadmium.

01-16-2007, 09:21 PM
All that said, I believe in the EU they're phasing out cadmium.

Oh my, I hope not! :note to self: stock up on Unisons:

01-16-2007, 09:53 PM

Well, true Ultramarine is not even used anymore :-)
At least not on a regular basis.

Kind regards,


01-17-2007, 02:08 PM
All that said, I believe in the EU they're phasing out cadmium.

I did a search to find out what may be going on with the EU and cadmium. It looks like the concern, for the moment anyway, is unfounded, as there is an exception for artist's materials. This from a Danish site ( http://www.euro.who.int/eehc/implementation/20051122_1 ) discussing the new regs:
Products containing cadmium: as a general rule the manufacture, import and distribution of products containing cadmium are prohibited. However, until further notice, it is permitted to use cadmium as a colouring pigment in dental cement, artist paints and works of art. Read more in Fact Sheet no. 1, "Products containing Cadmium (http://www.mst.dk/homepage)".
(Note: unless you speak Danish, or have a great translation program, I don't recommend following the Fact Sheet links... :D)

FYI - There's also this about azos (also used in pastels):
Azocolourants: azodyes which, by reductive cleavage can release one or more azo groups, may release carcinogenic aromatic amines may not be used in textiles and leather articles which may come into directs and prolonged contact with the human skin or oral cavity.

...and about nickel (used in pastels as well):
Products containing nickel: rules govern the content and release of nickel from a range of products designed to come in direct contact with the skin, for example, piercing jewellery. Importers and manufactures must have their products analysed using special analysis methods in order to be able to document that the products satisfy demands. Read more in Fact Sheet no. 3, "Products Containing Nickel" (http://www.mst.dk/homepage). It is estimated that the regulation has reduced the number of new cases of nickel allergy by 50 percent, implying a total benefit for the society of 1,3 billion € over a period of 20 years.

Lead appears to be out. I really don't know if it is typically used in the manufacture of pastels, and I think it's been less prevalent in the manufacture of oil paint (although some still swear by it for the unique qualities it produces):
Products containing lead: the general rule is that the import and distribution of products containing chemical compounds of lead are prohibited. In addition, certain products containing metallic lead are prohibited. The ban is enforced gradually for different product groups. Read more in Fact sheet no. 33, "Lead (http://www.mst.dk/homepage)"

So it appears we can rest easy for now. Further, it appears that much of the concern has to do with the use of these materials in products used by pregnant women and young children; the materials may not be much of a risk for adults who have finished growing. The Danish site made no mention of either ultramarine or cobalt, and a quick google search didn't come up with anything either, although that doesn't necessarily mean there aren't new regs on either of those.

Sadly, this information has deprived me of an excellent excuse to stock up on Unisons. :D

01-17-2007, 03:31 PM
I sent a note to Robert Gamblin, who's on top of these things. I'll let everyone know what I hear.

01-17-2007, 04:08 PM
I sent a note to Robert Gamblin, who's on top of these things. I'll let everyone know what I hear.
Thanks, Michael. It's also important to note, that as I read the above, it appears the regs have been written to allow the use of these pigments in artist materials. The one exception is lead, and it's always possible that somewhere in the lead regs there is another exception for artist materials that just didn't make it into the Danish summary.

I want to add this edit because I know that when one mentions the word, "regulation" to the average person, their eyes will glaze over and their ears retract. :lol: So I felt it might be helpful to summarize succinctly:

Only lead pigment appears to be disallowed under the new European Union regulations (this needs confirmation, and besides, these aren't United States regulations), cadmiums and azos are allowed in artist materials.

I don't know whether it's likely that the US would follow the European Union regulators...

01-17-2007, 04:29 PM
Hi Annie,

Hi have oil paint with lead content.

Kind regards,


01-17-2007, 04:52 PM
Hi have oil paint with lead content.

Well, unless there's an exception that the Danish site neglected to mention, I'd use what you have left of it sparingly, in order to conserve it, 'cause the regs appear to say you won't be getting any more of it... :(

Seriously, Jose, as a European, have you heard anything about this? Have your art supply stores stopped carrying lead-based oil paint, for instance? Is there a limited supply, after which there will be no more? Somehow, I would think that if lead was outlawed in oil paint there would be a tremendous objection by the European artist community, and that we would have heard of it here by now. So maybe the Danish site really did just overlook an exception made in the regs for artist materials. What have you heard, Jose?

01-17-2007, 04:56 PM
Here's the word from Gamblin Colors:

Dear Michael,

Thank you for contacting us.

This is untrue. Cadmium and Cobalt pigments are used widely in the greater
coating industry. Use of these pigments by artists is minuscule by
comparison. Labeling requirements of these colors may change and become
more pronounced (California's Prop. 65, for example). All Gamblin Cadmium
colors are made from chemically pure cadmium with low toxicity concerns.
They do not require heath labeling to conform to ASTM standards.

The art materials industry is the second most regulated industry in America
--before food and after drugs! So if you do not see a health warning label
on the product then you should consider it to be non hazardous.

US Federal law requires all formulae for artists' materials to be reviewed
by an independent toxicologist. The toxicologist then tells the manufacturer
what kind of health labeling is required on the materials. So if you see a
material that has no health warning attached then there are no known hazards
associated with that material.

All artists' materials should be used only in a manner for which they were

Thank you for choosing our materials.


Scott Gellatly
Technical Support Representative
Gamblin Artists Colors Co

01-17-2007, 07:09 PM
Hi Annie,

I had some trouble with the W&N site, but here's the link for the PDF about the Cremnitz white :


It's for Europe and UK.

Kind regards,


01-17-2007, 09:25 PM
I had some trouble with the W&N site, but here's the link for the PDF about the Cremnitz white...

Jose: Yeah, I had trouble with that site too. So I did a google, and got a hold of the HTML version of the info you linked to. Sadly, the date of the W&N info is 2001, while the Danish info had a date of October 2006, so it may still be that you'll have to give up your lead oil paints in the EU, as W&N may just not have updated their site yet. Maybe though, as I mentioned before, there is some sort of exception for artist materials. I'm relying on the Danish info, but it could be that a more thorough search would reveal a different answer. I've poked around on google a little bit, but have found nothing further at this point.