Volume 3, Number 2, May 1981, p.6

Study Group of the Task Group of the American Society for Testing and Materials Sub-Committee


On April 23, 1981 a meeting was held in New York City of a Study Group of the Task Group of the ASTM Sub-Committee dealing with the problems of labeling for chronic hazards in artists' materials. The group is chaired by Woodhall Stopford, M.D. of Duke University, toxicologist for the Crayon, Watercolor and Craft Institute. Members included representatives from manufacturers, artists, conservators and an industrial hygienist.

The purpose of this meeting was to attempt to find guidelines by which to identify artists' materials that may represent chronic toxicity hazards. The focus of concern was toward methods of presenting the necessary information in the most efficacious way The basic requirements are:

A Symbol or Key Word

After considerable discussion of the symbols currently used In Canada and the European Economic Community, the consensus was that the existing symbols are not adequate for chronic toxicity labeling at this time. Words like "Caution," "Warning," "Danger" may be used as key words instead.

Precautionary Statements

The aspect of precautionary statements is of particular interest to conservators. The consensus agreed that the most serious problem in addressing the problems of chronic toxicity in art materials, is in the area of solvents, not in the areas of artists' paints used in a traditional way. Categories of precautions that are being considered will cover warnings, where required, to avoid skin contact, ingestion and to keep out of the reach of children. Particular methods of ventilation and specific types of respirators may be advised. Fire hazardous materials may be identified and methods of extinguishing suggested.

Ingredients Known To Have A Potential Chronic Toxic Effect

A Proposal was made to establish an institute, similar to the Crayon, Watercolor and Craft Institute. One of the responsibilities of this institute would be the identification of these ingredients. A toxicologist, presumably Dr. Stopford, would be on the board of such an institute as well as representatives from manufacturers and users or the materials concerned. The toxicological staff would be responsible for identification of the subject substances as well as the results of their usage.


There was agreement regarding the necessity for a telephone number and/or an address to be used in cases of emergency. A variety of options are under discussion and Investigation. Among the possibilities are several Poison Control Centers. It is the aim of the Task Group to develop a voluntary standard for the labeling of artists' materials for chronic toxicity to be presented to the ASTM Sub-Committee D01.57, covering artists' paints and related materials in time for a June 21st meeting in Providence, Rhode Island. Everyone with an interest in these materials is urged to attend. Those who wish to vote should join ASTM: administration fee $50 annually. To join, contact M.J.M. Behrle, Lilly Industrial Coatings Inc., P.O. Box 946, Indianapolis, IN 46206.

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