The art of painting safely with Winsor & Newton artists’ materials, whether in your home or studio space, or while travelling, can be achieved with a combination of care and common sense. However, 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.
Read on for information and tips on art safety when it comes to studio clean-up and safe use, travelling on-the-go with paints and disposing of art materials after use. We’ve also covered what to keep in mind when it comes to EU legislations and health labelling in the USA.
Studio clean up and safe use tips
Below you’ll find a checklist of good working practices that you can adopt with all artists’ materials in your studio space, whether potentially hazardous or not. Before you start, always 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. 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.
- Avoid eating, drinking or smoke when working due to the risk of ingestion (swallowing).
- Do not point your brushes in your mouth.
- Refrain from applying colour directly with your fingers.
- Avoid excessive skin contact, particularly with solvents. If you are painting with your hands, use a barrier cream, like Winsor & Newton Artguard or surgical gloves.
- 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, as 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.
Travelling with oil colour
There’s real pleasure to be had in packing a portable colour kit, and painting under an open sky or on a vacation, and all 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. 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 a product may be considered allowable for airline transport.
NOTE: the flash point is the temperature at which a product will flame, therefore a higher flash point is better. Always check the product label and safety data sheet for the most accurate product information.
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
Below is a list of some Winsor & Newton products with a flash point above 61 degrees Celsius and which are NOT considered as hazardous for air:
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
- 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.
The airline will need to know the transport classification details – this information can be found on our safety data sheets in section 14. We recommend that you have access to this document whilst travelling.
Storage and disposal guidance
To ensure you are kinder to the environment and also your bank account, follow these tips on disposal advice and fully using up your art materials so that they can last longer.
- Make sure to store your materials away from direct heat and light, and with the lid securely closed after each use. All paint formulations will last longer this way.
- Some artists use cling-film or silver foil to provide a further barrier against drying in the tin or pot, but in every case reapplying the lid is essential.
- Acrylic paints and primers should not be stored at temperatures below 10 ° Celsius to prevent crystallisation, a process which regrettably cannot be reversed as certain paint types are harmed by excessive cold.
Paint and packaging disposal:
Empty tubes or packaging that contain only dry paint (dry watercolour, dry acrylic or dry oil paint) can usually be processed as general waste. Currently waste contaminated with paint cannot be recycled. Empty watercolour pan cups can be given other uses or, if you give them a quick clean, you can dispose of them as you would any other plastic.
For remaining paint, tubes and the sludge that collects at the bottom of brush washing jars, we suggest the following procedure:
- Place in an old large paint pot/container and label with a sticker saying, ‘Contains Artists Paints’. Once the container is full of paint waste, reapply the lid securely and take it to your local refuse recycling centre.
- Look for the area at the municipal recycling centre dedicated to all types of paints, bitumen and creosotes which are disposed of appropriately. If in doubt, hand the container to a member of staff.
- 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.
- Washing of brushes used for hazardous colours or solvent wastes such as white spirit, turpentine or Sansodor should be disposed of with care. They can be collected in an old paint tin or container and then disposed of at the local disposal centre.
- For Galeria medium and large grain gel and other texture mediums, we advise that consumer do not wash these brushes down the sink, but in an empty paint point, which can then be sealed or evaporated to dry and taken to the local disposal centre.
- For non-hazardous acrylic, watercolours and water miscible paint brushes, once most of the useable paint is put back in the pot or wiped onto a rag or paper towel, the final washing of the brush can be carried out under a running tap.
Aerosol storage and disposal
We would recommend you store your aerosols with the lid/cap on, away from direct heat sources, protect them from sunlight and do not expose to temperatures greater than 50° C/122° F. Do not spray on an open flame and do not pierce or burn even after use.
Once emptied, aerosol cans can usually be recycled as they are made from aluminium. Check with your local waste disposal units for further information. The cap of the aerosol may or may not be recyclable depending on your local rules, therefore we recommend you check with your local waste disposal unit.
Should you need safety information on any of our products, Safety Data Sheets are available upon request or via our websites, or if you would like more information, please contact us.
All Winsor & Newton products are evaluated against the EU Regulation (EC) No. 1272/2008 on the classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures, commonly known as ‘CLP’. This regulation is one of the strictest in the world. It uses information from toxicology studies on substances and assigns a classification to chemical substances for their physical, health and environmental hazard.
Most of our products are complex mixtures which sometimes contain classified substances. The classification of the finished product can be different to the classification of the substances due to the concentrations present, which can sometimes be low. The mixture classification is strictly determined by the regulation.
If a product does not have a warning label it is considered as non-hazardous when used as intended, i.e. as an art material. Regardless of a classification you should always follow safe chemical handling precautions. For more information please read through the studio clean up and safe use tips above.
For products that have a physical, health or environmental hazard, warnings and specific safety instructions will be provided on the label. As an example, Turpentine will provide the following information:
Danger. Contains: Turpentine Oil. Flammable liquid and vapour. Harmful if swallowed, in contact with skin or if inhaled. May be fatal if swallowed and enters airways. Causes skin irritation. May cause an allergic skin reaction. Causes serious eye irritation. Toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects.
IF SWALLOWED: Immediately call a POISON CENTER/doctor. Do NOT induce vomiting. If skin reaction occurs: Get medical advice/attention. Avoid release to the environment. Keep out of reach of children. Dispose of contents/container in accordance with national regulation. Repeated exposure may cause skin dryness and cracking.
If you’d like to read up on additional health and safety information about our ranges, these 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 that you cannot find on our website, please contact us.
All our safety data sheets can be downloaded from the product pages on our website.
Health labelling for the USA
The US system labels all art material products, whether a health warning is needed or not. The most common US labels are those that carry an AP seal, stating the following:
Products displaying the Approved Product “AP” seal or just the statement ‘Conforms to ASTM D 4236’ 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 Cautionary Labelling “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:
WARNING: MAY BE HARMFUL IF SWALLOWED. Contains: COBALT. KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN. FIRST AID TREATMENT: If swallowed, get prompt medical attention.
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 labels 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.