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Health & Safety Data Information

Winsor & Newton Artists' Materials do not present any major hazard when used with care and common sense. It should, however, be emphasised that as with other chemical products, high standards of general hygiene should be adhered to, both during and after use of these products and warnings given on individual products should be adhered to.  Prolonged contact with the skin and ingestion (or swallowing) of the product should be avoided.  This includes avoiding practices such as applying colour with the fingers or pointing brushes in the mouth.

Below you will find lots more information about health labelling, legislation, directives, and best practices in the USA as well as specific advice on how to use our art materials safely (including what to do when you want to travel with colour).

For Health & Safety data sheets, click on the following category links to see specific data sheets for each product range. The health & safety data sheets include all the relevant health and safety information and indicate that our products have been tested to the appropriate standard. 

Artists' Oil Colour
Winton Oil Colour
Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colour
Griffin Fast Drying Oil Colour
Artists' Oilbar
Oil Colour - Oils, Mediums, Varnishes & Solvents
Primers - Oil & Acrylic
Artists' Care Range
Artists' Water Colour
Cotman Water Colour
Water Colour Mediums
Designers' Gouache
Artists' Acrylic Colour
Galeria Acrylic Colour
Acrylic Mediums, Texture Gels & Varnishes
Drawing Inks
Calligraphy Inks

Health Labelling for the USA

Here is a brief outline of the labelling information that you can expect to find on artists' colours in the USA:

The US system labels all products whether a health warning is needed or not.  The most common US labels are:

"AP", indicating that the product has been tested by an independent toxicologist and is considered to be non-toxic.

AP logo

In the US, if a potential risk exists with a product, the label will say so.  The "CL" seal (replaced the "HL" seal in 2000) is used for products which are potentially hazardous, with appropriate phrases.  For example, some cobalt colours may be labelled with this warning:

"Warning: May produce allergic reaction by skin contact. Contains cobalt.  Avoid skin contact. Wash hands after use. Keep out of reach of children."

CL logo

The labelling system came about through the combined efforts of a number of associations and groups.  The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has prepared standards for the safe use of artists' materials.  These have been published in a booklet entitled, "ASTM Standards for the Performance, Quality, and Health Labelling of Artists' Paints and Related Materials"  (ISBN 0-8031-1838-4).

The address for ASTM is:

100 Barr Harbor Drive
West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2959

The labelling standard for Chronic Health Hazards in Art materials (ASTM D-4236) was codified into US law as part of the Federal Hazardous Substances Act.  The Art & Creative Materials Institute (ACMI) provides labelling certification, and works to promote the safe and informed use of art materials in North America.

From 2000, many art materials sold in the United States have included additional labelling for products containing cadmium and lead as a result of action surrounding California's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (commonly known as Proposition 65).  The new labels will reflect requirements resulting from Proposition 65, independent of labelling required by the Federal Hazardous Substances Act. 

For example, the labels for cadmium-containing products will read:

"DO NOT SPRAY APPLY.  This product contains cadmium, a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer by means of inhalation."

NOTE: There is no direct relationship between the EU and USA systems of health labelling as the categories used have different levels and limits, e.g., Flammable in the USA is not automatically considered as Flammable in the EU.

Hazardous Materials  - EU

Listed below are the Winsor & Newton Products in the EU with Hazard Warnings:

Those containing solvents:

  • Artists' White Spirit
  • Distilled Turpentine
  • Artists' Painting Medium
  • Dammar Varnish
  • Wax Varnish
  • Japan Gold Size
  • Artists' Gloss Varnish
  • Artists' Matt Varnish
  • Artists' Picture Varnish
  • Artists' Retouching Varnish
  • Conserv-Art Gloss Varnish
  • Artists Original Matt Varnish
  • Oil Painting Primer
  • Aerosols - Flammable warnings only

Those containing lead carbonate:

  • Artists' Oil Colour Flake White No. 1
  • Artists' Oil Colour Cremnitz White
  • Artists' Oil Colour Foundation White

Those containing zinc oxide:

  • Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colour Cerulean Blue Hue
  • Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colour Titanium White
  • Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colour Zinc White
  • Artist Oil Colour Flake White Hue
  • Artist Oil Colour Titanium White
  • Artist Oil Colour Zinc White
  • Artist Oil Colour Underpainting White
  • Artist Oil Colour Transparent White
  • Artist Oil Colour Flesh Tint
  • Winton Oil Colour Cerulean Blue Hue
  • Winton Oil Colour Titanium White
  • Winton Oil Colour Zinc White
  • Winton Oil Colour Flake White Hue
  • Artist Water Colour Pan Chinese White
  • Artist Water Colour Tube Chinese White

Hazardous Materials  - USA

Listed below are the Winsor & Newton Products in the USA with Hazard Warnings:

  • All products containing cadmium
  • Products containing solvents - See EU List
  • Liquin
  • Sansodor
  • Blending Medium
  • Products containing lead - See EU List
  • Fixative
  • Art Masking Fluid
  • Products containing soluble cobalt
  • Products containing certain Dyes, some Drawing Inks, and colours and mediums labelled for California Proposition 65

Studio Clean Up and Safe Use Tips

Good working practice should be adopted with all artists' materials, whether potentially hazardous or not.  Before you start, read the product labels.

Within your studio:

  • Ensure plenty of fresh air, ventilation and circulation.
  • Do not sleep in your studio without first removing painting materials   elsewhere and in particular, be sure to dispose of unused solvents   and dirty rags in fireproof and solvent-proof containers. 
  • Store all materials, particularly solvents, tightly capped when not in use.
  • Do not expose artists' materials to naked flames or excessive heat sources.

While working:

  • Do not eat, drink or smoke when working due to the risk of ingestion (swallowing).
  • Avoid excessive skin contact, particularly with solvents.
  • Do not point your brushes in your mouth; paints are not made for human consumption.
  • Refrain from applying colour directly with your fingers.
  • Use a barrier cream, like Winsor & Newton Artguard or surgical gloves when painting with your hands.
  • When airbrushing, wear an approved mask and work in adequate ventilation to avoid inhalation of airborne particles. An exterior vented extraction system is recommended.
  • When using powdered pigment, wear an approved mask and work in adequate ventilation to avoid inhalation of airborne particles.  An exterior vented extraction system is recommended.
  • Do not pour out more solvent than is necessary for your current painting session, it will only evaporate into the room.
  • If paint or solvent is splashed into the eyes or on the skin, wash thoroughly with water.
  • Avoid prolonged inhalation of solvent vapours.
  • Clean up all spills.
  • Keep artists' materials out of reach of children, animals and foodstuffs.

(NOTE:  Winsor & Newton artists' materials are manufactured for use by adults, that is persons over the age of 14. Small children are exposed to greater risks than adults due to their smaller body size and lower weight.  Artists' materials should be kept out of reach of children in order to  prevent accidents from occurring.)

After painting:

  • Clear away all solvent and paint soaked rags and discarded palettes. Dispose of them in an airtight, solvent-proof container or in an appropriate manner. 
  • Wash hands thoroughly at the end of your painting session.
  • Do not use excess solvent to wash colour from your hands.
  • Use a hand cleanser, like Winsor & Newton Artgel. 

Travelling With Oil Colour

There's real pleasure to be had in packing a portable colour kit, and painting under an open sky or during holiday travel.  Any of our oil colour products are suitable for outdoor use. 

Of all our ranges, however, the fastest drying and therefore the easiest to work and re-work over the course of a single painting session, is Griffin Alkyd Fast Drying Oil Colour.

Because of safety regulations with the airlines, we offer the following information regarding our colour products.  Any product or material with a flash point below 61° Celsius is classified as dangerous goods, and those products cannot be included during airline travel. 

(NOTE: the flash point is the temperature at which a product will flame, therefore a higher flash point is better.)

While a few of our products do have a flash point at or below the 61° mark, the flash points of a large number of our oil colour products are well above.  Below is a comprehensive list that can be used (and shown to an airline official, if needed) to verify whether or not a product may be considered allowable for airline transport.

Products with flash points below 61° Celsius, that are considered Group II or Group III flammable materials should be considered unsuitable for airline travel:

  • Oil Colour solvents (except Sansodor, which has a flash point of 70° Celsius)
  • Oil Colour mediums (except Artisan Water Mixable Oil Mediums)
  • Oil Colour varnishes

Winsor & Newton products with flash points above 61 degrees Celsius, and which therefore classified as non-hazardous:

  • Flash point (closed cup):
    Artists' Oil Colours >230° C
  • Winton Oil Colours >230° C
  • Refined Linseed Oil >230° C
  • Linseed Stand Oil >230° C
  • Thickened Linseed Oil >230° C
  • Bleached Linseed Oil >2 30° C
  • Cold Pressed Linseed Oil >230° C
  • Oilbar >230° C
  • Griffin Alkyd Fast Drying Oil Colours 70° C
  • Sansodor 70° C
  • Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colours >100° C
  • Artisan Water Mixable Linseed Oil >200° C
  • Artisan Water Mixable Stand Oil >200° C
  • Artisan Water Mixable Painting Medium 70° C
  • Artisan Water Mixable Fast Drying Medium >70° C
  • Artisan Water Mixable Impasto Medium >70° C