Volume 11, Number 1, Jan. 1989, pp.6-7

Zora's Column

by Zora Sweet Pinney

Imagine...the moment of truth is only two years away. Finally we have a federal law that is a boon to the people it affects...and all of us in WAAC are very much a part of that group.

The bill was written as an amendment to the FHSA (Federal Hazardous Substances Act). Up to this time the FHSA has addressed only acutely hazardous materials. With this law, chronically hazardous materials are now covered.

It means that every art material we use, that may have the potential for producing chronic adverse health effects, must be labeled so that it exhibits a proper warning statement, identification of a possible hazardous material and precautions in its use. No more hodge-podge of different laws in different states and different people administering those laws.

Under the aegis of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the law will mandate adherence to the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) Standard D-4236, that I have been working on for many years. Chuck Jacobsen, of the CPSC, said they hope to hold public hearings in April, May, and June, and must establish guidelines within a year. Their proposed goal is to further define "toxic", and to publish guidelines for carcinogenic materials in March and for non-carcinogenic materials by September 30th.

The CPSC commissioners are Presidential appointees that are approved by the U.S. Senate. In order to promulgate regulations there must be three commissioners. At this moment there are only two, but the work goes on.

Robert Schlag, of the California Department of Health Services, said that because of the recent shortfall in California's budget, the Department had to take a 10% cut. One of the casualties was the art hazards program. With a Federal law on the books we will no longer be subject to this kind of vacillation, nor will any of the other states. Because the law gives the CPSC the oversight function, it may preempt Proposition 65 (see WAAC Newsletter, Vol 10, no 2) in California and labeling laws in other states as well.

I hope one of the hearings will be held in Los Angeles. If any of you are interested in attending, get in touch with me in April and I'll fill you in with whatever current information I can.

For those of you who may subscribe to Art Hazards News, and read the article "'Nontoxic' Labels on Art Supplies Raise Concerns" by Sarah Henry in Vol. 11, no. 8 (1988), you should be aware of some errors in this report. It was inaccurate and misleading. The toxicologist of the Art and Craft Materials Institute (ACMI), Dr. Stopford, was misquoted, and taken out of context, as were quotations from Robert Schlag of the California Department of Health Services (CDHS).

Ms. Henry's article approaches the issues negatively and leans in the direction of fear tactics. I believe all of us are sufficiently mature to come to our own decisions based on as factual information as we can find. It is disturbing to find a source like Art Hazards News, that many people rely on for accuracy, printing such incomplete and unreliable information.

In contrast, in an article by Rose Dosti, in the December 15th issue of the Los Angeles Times, a "Glossary of Chemicals Found in Food" was reprinted from "Priorities", a publication of the American Council on Science and Health.

It lists chemicals found in prepared foods and their toxic results in high doses. It was factual and included food we all consume, like apples, nuts, broccoli, potatoes, carrots, onions, celery, radishes, tomatoes, and even water. Please note: our trusty garlic is not on the list, thank goodness.

Also from the L.A. Times is an article by Stephanie Chavez, published on January 10th of this year, telling about a program operated by the Department of Public Works' Sanitation Bureau. Its purpose is to reduce the amount of hazardous materials, like paint and solvents, that have been disposed of down the drains and in the trash.

Los Angeles residents may bring these materials on specified days to eight locations. Workers will haul the material to a licensed landfill.

The dates and locations where the materials should be taken are:

26 February
West Los Angeles Federal Bldg, 11000 Wilshire Blvd.

15 April
Van Nuys, L.A. Valley College, 5800 Fulton Ave.

20 May
South-Central L.A., City Maintenance Lot, 5860 So. Wilton Place

24 June
Granada Hills, Coast Savings & Loan, 18000 Chatsworth St.

28 October
Elysian Park, Dodger Stadium, 1000 Elysian Park and

18 November
Sun Valley Refuse Collection Yard, 9701 San Fernando Road.

For disposal programs that are in effect outside of Los Angeles, sanitation districts should be contacted.

Zora Sweet Pinney

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