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HEALTH & SAFETY LABELING, AND OTHER CHEMICAL HAZARD
MANAGEMENT ISSUES IN THE ARTS…
There are a host of specific labeling rules and practices in the arts, and other chemical hazard
management issues relative to human health/safety and environmental protection, as follows…
LHAMA, ASTM D-4236, ACMI & California Proposition 65
The federal Labeling of Hazardous Art Materials Act (LHAMA) became law in November 1990. It
governs the labeling of hazardous art materials nationally, and is enforced by the Consumer Product
Safety Commission (CPSC). The law’s principal intent is to assure that art materials are labeled to warn
consumers of potential chronic (long-term/slow-emerging) hazards via a new mandatory ASTM
standard. ASTM D-4236 is a standard published by the (non-industry chaired) “artists paints”
subcommittee of the American Society for Testing & Materials (ASTM). As the standard itself
declares, “Since knowledge about chronic health hazards is incomplete and warnings cannot cover all
uses of any product, it is not possible for precautionary labeling to ensure completely safe use of an art
product.” “Conforms to D-4236” on an art material label does NOT mean the product is “non-toxic.”
Rather, it means:



The material has been evaluated by a toxicologist for acute and chronic toxicity;
The label names the ingredients identified as presenting a chronic health hazard, if any; and
A product presenting a chronic health hazard comes with safe use instructions.
The Art & Creative Materials Institute, Inc. (ACMI) conducts a broad-based certification program in
accordance with ASTM D-4236, to determine the appropriate consumer labeling that is required. ACMI
has historically used a number of different seal types (as depicted below) to illustrate whether certain art
materials can be certified as non-toxic or must bear appropriate cautionary health and safe use labeling.
However, for the purposes of streamlining and simplifying the various seal types and their meaning, art
materials produced after 2009 will only bear one of two seal types—the AP seal or the CL seal.
California Proposition 65 is an additional labeling precaution commonly found on
some hazardous art materials, which is in addition to those facilitated through
LHAMA, ASTM D-4236, and ACMI. The presence of the “Ca Prop 65” symbol
indicates that some specific chemical ingredient within the larger chemical material
is known to the state of California to cause cancer, birth defects or other
reproductive harm.
Summary
As a result of the phase-out of certain ACMI seals for products produced after 2009 via the
LHAMA/ASTM D-4236/ACMI system, only the following 2 ACMI seals, or the CA Prop 65 symbol,
should be found on new products, along with their meanings:
Products bearing the AP seal of the Art & Creative Materials Institute, Inc. (ACMI) are certified nontoxic. A medical expert evaluates each product and its ingredients. A product can be certified nontoxic only if it contains no materials in sufficient quantities to be toxic or injurious to humans, or to
cause acute or chronic health problems. AP certification is reviewed by ACMI's Toxicological
Advisory Board. These products are certified by ACMI to be labeled in accordance with the chronic
hazard labeling standard, ASTM D-4236 and federal law P.L. 100-695.
Products bearing the CL seal of the Art & Creative Materials Institute ("Caution Label") contain
ingredients that are toxic or hazardous, but they can be used safely with appropriate caution. Materials
that bear the CL seal should be used only by those persons who are able to read, understand, and
follow suggested safety precautions for handling those materials. The Caution Label signifies that
although the product contains a toxic element, it can be handled safely if the directions on the
container or packaging are followed. Many such art products cannot be made non-hazardous, but are
necessary for certain creative activities. When used in properly supervised and controlled conditions,
they can be enjoyed with complete safety.
The State of California requires clear and reasonable warnings on products and/or storage containers
containing chemicals that have been shown to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm.
Even if these products contain only trace levels of harmful chemicals, a warning is required by the
State of California. Manufacturers of certain products have included warnings pursuant to California
Proposition 65, and caution is recommended when using products marked with the Prop 65 icon.
OSHA, MSDS’s and HAZCOM Labeling
Regardless of the efforts of the CPSC and ACMI through the LHAMA/ASTM D-4236 standard, as well
as the state of California’s “Prop 65”, all of which seek to warn consumers of the hazards of art
materials through standardized labeling, employers who permit the use of hazardous chemicals by its
employees have a number of additional compliance obligations under OSHA standards (specifically, 29
CFR 1910.1200—Hazard Communication), as follows…
The OSHA Hazard Communication Standard compels employers to develop a 5 part program to
comply with its standard, including the following:
1. Develop and maintain a written HAZCOM plan;
2. Maintain an inventory of hazardous chemicals in the workplace;
3. Maintain an MSDS for each chemical in its inventory;
4. Manage a labeling system relating to both original manufacturer’s containers, and secondary
containers used for dispensing/other purposes; and
5. Properly train its employees on the safe use of hazardous chemicals.
MSDS’s (or Material Safety Data Sheets), are documents that describe in detail various data regarding
chemical formulations or products, upon which occupational and environmental risk assessments are
based, and include the following:
 Chemical product and company identification
 Composition and information on ingredients
 Hazards identification
 First aid measures
 Firefighting measures










Accidental release measures
Exposure controls - personal protection
Handling and storage
Physical and chemical properties
Stability and reactivity
Toxicological information
Ecological information
Disposal considerations
Transport information
Regulatory information
Employers are required to maintain (and make accessible) an MSDS for each chemical formulation or
product it maintains or uses on its premises, and has additional training obligations for its employees.
In regards to HAZCOM labeling, most hazardous chemicals (whether in the arts or not) are normally
shipped/received with adequate hazard warnings on their original manufacturer’s labels, and as such