Health & Safety 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 followed. 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. 

Additional Health & Safety information about our ranges can be found on individual product pages, including downloadable Safety Data Sheets that show our products have been tested to the appropriate standard.  If you are in search of product information which you cannot find on our website, please contact us.

Read on for more information about:

•    EU Legislation
•    Health Labelling for the USA
•    EU & US Hazard Warnings
•    Studio Clean Up and Safe Use Tips
•    Tips for travelling with Oil Colour

EU Legislation 

EC directives for health and safety regulations were introduced in the 1980's.  They cover all products available to industry or the general public in the EU.  The basis of the system is the classification of dangerous substances into one of the following classifications:  TOXIC, HARMFUL, CORROSIVE, IRRITANT, OXIDISING, EXPLOSIVE, FLAMMABLE or DANGEROUS FOR THE ENVIRONMENT. 

There can be various levels within a classification, for example, Very Toxic or Extremely Flammable. Most levels of classification have accompanying symbols, for example, skull & cross bones for Toxic.  In addition, these classifications can be accompanied by "Risk Phrases" and/or "Safety Phrases".  Any artists' material, which falls into one of the above classifications, must be labelled accordingly.  

The three most common classifications in artists' materials are Harmful, Flammable, and Dangerous for the Environment, as follows: 

Harmful Symbol Highly Flammable Symbol Dangerous for the Environment Symbol
The risk and/or safety phrases will vary according to each product.  

For an example of the labelling required with each classification above, Dammar Varnish would be labelled with Harmful and Dangerous for the Environment, and with the following risk phrases: 

Harmful by inhalation, in contact with skin and if swallowed
Irritating to the eyes and skin
May cause sensitisation by skin contact
Toxic to aquatic organisms, may cause long term adverse effects in the aquatic environment 
May cause lung damage if swallowed

And with the following safety phrases: 

Keep out of reach of children
Wear suitable protective clothing and gloves
Avoid release into the environment Refer to safety data sheets
If swallowed, do not induce vomiting: seek medical advice immediately and show this container or label 

From 2015 all chemicals and mixtures of chemicals will need to be labelled with new symbols and ‘hazard’ and ‘precautionary’ phrases. The requirement for this change came in to force in 2010 for substances (e.g. Turpentine) and will change for all products by June 2015. 

The symbols for harmful, highly flammable and dangerous for the environment as illustrated above, will change to:

If a product is not labelled with a hazard warning then it is considered to be non-dangerous.

Health Labelling for the USA

The US system labels all art materials products whether a health warning is needed or not.  The most common US labels are those that carry an AP seal:

Those products that AP Approved Product Seal are certified in a program of toxicological evaluation by a medical expert to contain no material in sufficient quantities to be toxic or injurious to humans or to cause acute or chronic health problems. This program is reviewed by ACMI’s (Art and Creative Materials Institute) Toxicological Advisory Board. These products are certified by the ACMI to be labelled in accordance with the chronic hazard labelling standard, ASTM D 4236 and Federal Law P.L. 100-695. In addition there is no physical hazard as defined within 29 CFR Part 1910.1200(c).


The "CL" seal is used for products which are potentially hazardous, with appropriate phrases. The same review for these products is used for the products that carry an AP symbol. CL approved products can be used safely if the appropriate warnings on the product are observed.
 For example, some cobalt colours may be labelled with this warning:


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.

Winsor & Newton Products in the EU with Hazard Warnings

Those containing solvents:
•    Artists' White Spirit
•    Sansodor
•    Distilled Turpentine
•    Artists' Painting Medium
•    Dammar Varnish
•    Japan Gold Size
•    Blending Medium
•    Artists' Gloss Varnish
•    Artists' Matt Varnish
•    Artists’ Satin Varnish
•    Artists' Picture Varnish
•    Artists' Retouching Varnish
•    Oil Painting Primer
•    Aerosols - Flammable warnings only

Those containing lead carbonate:
•    Artists' Oil Colour Flake White No. 1
•    Artists' Oil Colour Cremnitz 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
•    Professional Oil Colour Zinc White
•    Professional Oil Colour Titanium White
•    Professional Oil Colour Quick Drying White
•    Professional Oil Colour Transparent White
•    Professional Oil Colour Flesh Tint
•    Professional Oil Colour Turners Yellow (tin titanium zinc oxide)
•    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

Winsor & Newton Products in the USA with Hazard Warnings
•    All products containing cadmium
•    Products containing solvents - See EU List
•    Liquin
•    Sansodor
•    Drying Oils
•    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. 

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
•    All aerosols

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

Flash point (closed cup):
•    Artist Oil Colours >230° C
•    Professional 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

All water based products, such as Professional Acrylics, Professional Water Colours and Designer Gouache are unrestricted for air transportation.

*We suggest that you consult with your airline before taking these products on the airlines. It is our experience that some airlines will adopt local rules beyond the scope of IATA, that prohibit some of the above product categories.