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Maybe this can help ease some peoples fears about cadmium paint,d.bGE

Quoting from the link:

• The most important of these is the range of yellow, orange and red pigments based on cadmium, which is a
toxic heavy metal and is regarded by the California regulators as a possible carcinogen.
• Modern cadmium pigments use a coating technology which “locks in” the harmful pigment particles, and
renders them relatively inert and harmless.
ACMI, the regulator which sets the rules for warning labels on artists paint has rated cadmium colours “AP
non-toxic” because of the coating."

"A sensible person might decide to use cadmium colours a bit more carefully than the other colours
marked “non-toxic”. How would you keep them out of your body, just to be on the safe side?
Cadmium is a cumulative poison which cannot penetrate the skin, is probably not absorbed by eating it,
because of the coating as it passes through, but in the lungs it would remain for a long time, and the coating
could break down, so if you really want to spray it, why not wear the recommended mask?
While it does not penetrate the skin, painty fingers on cigarettes can transfer pigment to the cigarette, which
explodes the cadmium as you smoke: this is the most obviously dangerous entry point to your body."

Of course it's still a good idea to wear gloves, not eat and drink while painting etc. My intention
in posting this is just to maybe let people know that it's not the end of the world if they happen to get some paint on their hands as it's not absorbed through the skin. Apparently the new lead paints use the same coating technology as the cadmium pigments.


  • Safe lead paint??? Hmmm, curious about this.
  • @Mark_Carder This is all I know Mark:
    "The other class of toxic lead based pigments is the yellows, oranges and reds based on lead chromate and
    molybdate. These pigments are now made using the same coating technology to “lock in” the lead as is used
    in the production of “non-toxic” cadmium pigments, but ACMI does not seem to be aware of this, or may
    not have tested them, and they still carry the daunting warnings which used to apply to cadmiums as well."

    I wonder how long the coating will last though. Maybe it breaks down in nature, that wouldn't be so good for the environment, but to me it looks like it's just as safe to paint with as cadmium paint now with this technology.
  • I clicked on the a download warning saying it could possibly harm my I chose to discard it rather than open it. Anyway, what type of coating is it? Does is surround each particle of pigment. One of the advantages of lead pigments (and maybe cadmium too?!) is that they are film-forming pigments; and therefore, they actually form chemical bonds with the drying oil during the oxidation-polymerization process. Simply mixing white lead with linseed oil produces excellent paint because the cured paint film is so tough and the old days it was used for exterior paint on buildings, fences, etc. I'm speculating that if each particle of pigment is coated then the reactive parts of the pigment molecules may already be satisfied or blocked off and the pigments can no longer contribute to the paint film chemically. If this is the case, then the paint film won't be as tough, but rather, could be weaker. And as far as toxicity with heavy metals for artists is concerned, the real risk has always been in breathing dust containing these pigments and in licking fingers, etc. I'm still going to avoid getting any of it inside my body, coating or no coating. However, you are correct about getting it on your skin not being dangerous, but wet paint also contains solvents and many people are justifiably concerned about skin absorption of mineral spirits and other solvent-type ingredients.
  • As Charlie said, my concern would be the same, that the chemical reaction would be effected by the coating. One of the reasons lead makes the strongest paint, it will not crack even after 100 years or more, is because of its reactive properties when mixed with oil. Titanium for instance makes a much weaker paint film because titanium pigment does not react at all with oil, adding a bit of zinc helps.

    I used to use lead white the first few years I painted. I actually prefer titanium because it is the least transparent of the whites. The perfect white to me would be titanium with about 25% lead to add strength... But the toxicity issue is big one.
  • ebsebs -
    edited June 2013
    @CharleyBoy Thanks for the info. I'm no expert on this coating, but it appears to be now in all cadmium pigments used for art materials, so it can't be that bad?
    I clicked on the a download warning saying it could possibly harm my I chose to discard it rather than open it.
    I can assure you I'm not trying to give you computer viruses or anything. :)>- Weird, I didn't get any danger message and my antivirus program is usally on alert with every suspicious web pages. Regarding skin absorbtion, it's good to know that if you wash your brushes by pressing them against your palm (which I like to do) without wearing gloves that the cadmium residue won't absorb throught the skin and accumulate in the body over time.

    @Mark_Carder, thanks for the info regarding lead. I've never used lead white or any lead pigments before, ATM I'm satisfied with the Rembrandt titanium white's (which I use now) handling properties. But as you say there's the concern with the paint film as a painting ages, but as you say the issue of toxicity is a big one and to me the issue of lead toxicity trumphs that concern.
  • ebsebs -
    edited June 2013
    Again not trying to say go eat your paint (I'm certainly not going to, I can tell you that! lol) I just found this info regarding this coating technology interesting. If you think the title is inapropriate/misleading, please let me know.
  • Good to know, especially since last week, I slopped cadmium yellow and red on myself!
  • edited July 2013
    I've used flake white for about 30 years, and except for my dragging hind leg, have no apparent problems. Seriously, as several have said, just don't eat the stuff. Don't rub in in an open wound. But who would do that. A little study reveals that many of the oil paints we use are toxic. Turquoise often contains arsenic, and Thalo blue contains a component of cyanide, and of course, the cadmiums are not picnic fare, either. In the old days, bone black was made from charred bones . . . yuck. Just use good hygiene, wash before eating.
  • Robert said:

    I have talked with one artist who makes his own paint and uses the original vermilion (mercury sulfide) claiming that he is careful and the properties and good advantages of that red so far outweigh the disadvantages of having to be so careful with its toxicity that it is worth it. Not to mention it is the most expensive of all the colors. Makes lead and cadmium seem like a walk in the park.

    Vermillion is fairly commonly used by iconographers working in egg tempera. Would scare the heck out of me to have it around. I don't think that it would be possible to use the powder for paint making without getting some of it airborne. It is available in a liquid dispersion, which would be safer, but still doesn't seem like a good idea to me.
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