A while ago I had begun to feel the twinges of guilt about my studio waste, so I had called the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corp (Johnston Landfill) to ask about it. They did not seem too concerned about oil painting rags, but it still bothered me.
So today I went over my oil colors to try to identify which of them might pose an environmental hazard. Of the couple of dozen colors that I use, I was glad to see that there seems to be only one element I need to worry about, and that's lead. I had always assumed that the cadmium in all my reds and yellows was bad, but in researching it, I stumbled on this information on Chroma's site.
• 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.I use Windsor and Newton cadmiums though, so I went on their site and it seemed to confirm Chroma's information
• 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.
ECOLOGICAL INFORMATION - ECOTOXICITYThat leaves only the lead based paints, Titanium white and naples yellow. The news from Windsor and Newton wasn't as good...
Not regarded as dangerous to the environment
ECOLOGICAL INFORMATION - ECOTOXICITYIf I can find an alternative to my lead based colors it will save me trips to the Johnston Landfill, but as yet I haven't found a white that is lead free, and Naples Yellow will be a hard pigment to give up. I love both for their covering power, which I'm sure is due to the lead. So I'll continue my research. Meanwhile, I'm storing my paint rags, I'll probably need to take at least one trip to the Johnston Landfill until I find alternatives.
Dangerous to the environment. May cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment.
In the meantime I got a tip from my friend and founder of R.I.'s best online magazine about the environment, www.naturalnews.net about a good booklet from the Narragnsett Bay Commission specifically addressing artist studios. Check it out.
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