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Old 09-28-2008, 03:33 PM
MarkMan MarkMan is offline
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 51
Oil Paint toxicity warning question...

Browsing around dickblick.com, I clicked on the pigment information for various colors of oil paint.

Some pigments carry a warning of "highly toxic of inhaled."

Does this mean if the paint is thinned and sprayed through an airbrush?

Or are the fumes from the paint toxic?

Anyone know?

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Old 09-28-2008, 03:42 PM
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DAK723 DAK723 is offline
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Rochester, NY
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Re: Oil Paint toxicity warning question...

In terms of pigments being toxic, I am fairly certain they are referring to actual pigment particles - not fumes. Since the pigment particles are bound by the oil, under normal use, those particles do not become airborne. I do not know enough about airbrushing to know the dangers.

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Old 09-28-2008, 05:16 PM
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AlbertSc AlbertSc is offline
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Re: Oil Paint toxicity warning question...

The danger of toxic pigments ground in oil is vastly over-rated so long as one takes a reasonable precaution not to eat any paint and to wash carefully after a session.

Airbrushing, however, does present some substantial dangers, for the aerosols can be quite dangerous, both in terms of pigment and vehicle. If you plan to use any sort of spray system, it would be well to wear a quality respirator mask and also some eye protection.

For many years, I worked as a staff artist in an art studio (gads, what we did in those halcyon days before Gates and Jobs destroyed the business!), and airbrushing was a common procedure, especially in working over product photographs to remove backgrounds, etc. All one had to do was blow one's nose a single time to realize how much airborne pigment is breathed in. Air laden with stuff like lead, cadmium, chrome and other heavy metals is something one might better avoid.

Also the vehicles, themselves, are being broadcast as tiny droplets -- unlike the usual vapor of an open can or brush washer. Again, you have only one liver and a pair of kidneys -- best make them last the entire journey, if you can.

"Jealousy is the tribute mediocrity pays to genius."
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Old 09-28-2008, 05:32 PM
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Smokin Smokin is offline
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Re: Oil Paint toxicity warning question...

Like whats been said already, breathing in dust particles can be harmful.

Those who cook pigments in a furnace like with cerammics and pots are at most risk for inhailing harmful material/pigments. In oilpainting, the only thing airborne is the smell of the oil and solvents. Airbrushing and pastels are a different story which is why some of the more toxic pigments like lead or cads are not used anymore for those types of mediums.
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Old 09-28-2008, 05:46 PM
MarkMan MarkMan is offline
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Posts: 51
Re: Oil Paint toxicity warning question...

Thanks, as always, folks.

I have no intention of airbrushing or spraying any paints. I just wanted to make sure that under "normal usage" there was no danger.

I fully understand the pastel concerns raised in one of the replies. It's the reason I'm returning to oil painting. After an afternoon session of using pastels, I sneezed and could not believe.... well, you get the picture. Oh, sure, I could wear a mask and wear gloves, and buy an expensive exhaust system, but it's not my cup of tea. Don't get me wrong, I admire the work done by pastelists who might be reading this, but it's just not for me.

Thanks again,
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Old 09-28-2008, 09:33 PM
Aires Aires is offline
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Re: Oil Paint toxicity warning question...

Normal usage is really just common sense. You wouldn't finger paint with lead based paints, cadmium or cobalt paints, none of those with the little astericks by the name. Nor would you want them in your foods and drinks. Oil binds the pigment particles well and the odors aren't dangerous unless you have an allergy that is activated by it. Good question and good thinking!

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