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Proposal to Ban Cadmium Pigments?

July 12, 2014

On the Facebook page for Royal Talens, an art supply company, I saw a post from them recently on the proposed ban to the European Chemicals Agency for cadmium pigment in all artist’s paints. This ban, should it adopted, would also affect the availability of cadmium in the United States.

Talens gave a link to the ECHA site where you can review the text of the proposals and even make your own comment response back to them. The ban proposal texts appear as PDF file links for the “Information note” and “Restriction report.” This public reply period ends on September 19th, 2014. If you have an opinion on this let them know.

I have been hearing about the banning of cadmium (and cobalt) pigments for artist paints for some time now, but this is the first time I’ve seen it start to move forward beyond the rumor stage. I personally rarely use any of the cadmiums, but when I do need them, there really isn’t a good alternative. You can see why in these pictures that Talens also posted:

royaltalens_cadmium1 royaltalens_cadmium2 royaltalens_cadmium3

These pictures show tests made that compare cadmium red and yellow with an “alternative pigment in terms of lightfastness, tinting strength, and opacity. No mention was given as to what that alternative was, but from their own color chart of oil paints I assume it was Pyrrole for red and Benzimidazole for the yellow. I’m waiting to get a confirmation on that from them.

Personally, I have to admit I rarely use cadmiums on my palette, but when I do it is because I need the qualities they have to offer. Any alternative is a poor substitute. I still have tubes in various media that are several years old and will likely last for several more. I suppose if I buy one more tube of each that I’ll have enough to last a lifetime. That said, I don’t appreciate being denied access to the colors I need when all that is required is to use them properly and with intelligence.

As such, I sent off my own request for the ECHA to disregard the ban proposal and concentrate more on educating the public on the proper way to dispose of the paints so they don’t endanger the environment or the users themselves. To footnote my response I borrowed information from the Cadmium.org site, and this PDF file from Gamblin.

Schools are already banning the use of these pigments in their art classes. :Link:
I also hear that some art supply manufacturers are removing them from their line of paints. :Link:

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