Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Petition to UK MEPs: Stop the EU ban of cadmium in artist's paints

Today I became aware that there is  petition on 38 Degrees - "Stop the EU ban of cadmium in artist's paints." However to date it doesn't have a lot of signatures!

The 38 Degrees website and the petition about Cadmium in Artists Paints
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) may have changed its mind about the proposed ban - see yesterday's blog post - A Rethink: about proposed ban on Cadmium in artists' paints - and artists' professional practices.

However it is consulting until 8th February 2015 on its new position - and those seeking a ban may well present more evidence and change their mind yet again.

If you are at all concerned about even the possibility of a ban, a "belt and braces" approach would suggest signing this petition is a good idea.

I've just signed the petition and decided to publicise it so you can decide whether you want to add your name too.  Click the link at the top if you want to read more about why the petition was put together.

If you want to share the share the petition with others, either share this post or these links:


  1. I'm torn on this. I agree it's overkill to ban cadmium paints, but it does bother me that I can walk into an art shop and buy (if I can afford it) any amount of paints in complete ignorance of whether there is any hazard attached, or how to dispose of them safely. I'm fairly sure that in the past I will have breezily poured paint water carelessly down the sink before I became aware of such issues. Shouldn't there be information at point of sale? How do we lobby retailers and manufacturers to provide this sort of information?

    I'll probably go and sign that petition, but I really think the industry should be thinking about this. Education in art colleges is all very well, but I'll bet the majority of artist paint is actually sold to hobbyists like me who will never be exposed to that kind of formal environment.

  2. That for me is the big lesson which has come out of this exercise. There's a big need for much better education on all matters relating to potentially toxic art materials because most people use irresponsible practices through sheer ignorance rather than laziness

  3. At present, the risk associated with cadmium pigments in artists' paints is deemed 'negligible'. The Swedish proposal was founded on some flawed evidence that, whilst the risk might still be negligible, in 100-150 years a ban might reduce the incidence of osteoporotic bone fractures and breast cancer cases in the EU by a tiny - and unmeasurable - amount. The difficulty is that compared to most things in the real world, this is close to zero risk, but not quite.
    We can and should be changing our ways, so that we do not release any potentially toxic substances into waste water, or the environment more generally, even if their risk remains negligible. Furthermore I expect that environmental organisations will expect us to improve, or maybe there will be further proposals for banning pigments.
    There is much more to this than just labelling: I think the manufacturers should be providing us with more helpful info, and some of us are working on a plan to see to that. More in the New Year.

  4. Currently, the view is that the risk associated with cadmium pigments in artists' paints is negligible. The Swedish proposal attempted (on rather weak evidence) to show that even that negligible risk could amount to a small number of osteoporotic bone fractures and cases of breast cancer, after a period of 100-150 years. However, not only was this a very long time to wait for any benefits, but even then the numbers would be so small as to be undetectable.
    Even though risks are negligible, I think we need to improve. There is no excuse for releasing cadmium or other potentially toxic substances into waste water or the environment. We need to improve our practice - or there is the real threat of future proposals to ban pigments.
    Some of us do intend to progress this, in the New Year, so that guidelines for best practice can be spread by manufacturers and others. For instance, did you know that there are waste water filters available at reasonable cost which can remove a lot of cadmium and other potentially toxic substances?
    Look for more work and info in the New Year...

  5. The first nick-name of the Impressionists was the 'The Dazzlers' (Les Éclatists'). Their paintings were brighter partly because they were amongst the first to use cadmium pigments. Ban the Impressionists but carry on spraying cadmium on crops???? It's a question of degree. Two NiCad batteries of my hand drill is the qualvalent of twnety five years of painting.


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