Understanding ACMI Artist Materials Seals & Toxicity Labels

By heather at 1:00 am on Friday, August 3, 2007

My awareness & concern for non-toxic art materials has been rekindled… I’ve often noticed the AP labels on my paints and art supplies, but not really bothered to find out what they mean. So here’s a quick 101 on deciphering the safety of your artist materials…

So what makes art supplies safe?

Just like any product, knowledge of the potential hazards and proper handling can make your art supplies safe. Generally art products that are safe to use are those that are not toxic and do not cause any immediate (such as skin irritation) or long term reactions (such as cancer) to your health. In 1998, the US “Labeling of Hazardous Art Materials Act” set in place a standard where artist materials need to be labeled appropriately, and to have a special note if it is inappropriate for children to use them (as the little munchkins will likely stick them up their nose & in their ears.) Art materials must clearly have their hazardous ingredients specified on the label, and have instructions for how to use them safely, identify that it complies with Federal Law, and provide information on how to contact the manufacturer for more information. (Some of the above information was found in The Green Guide, who have some great tips on handling art supplies safely)
The Art & Creative Materials Institute, Inc. (ACMI) are responsible for the nifty little labels you see on all sorts of artist materials. Their team of toxicologists make sure that every ingredient in every product is safe, with no regard to objections related to cost (that’s what I like to hear!)

How can I find out if my art materials are safe?

An easy way of doing this is to look for the ACMI seal on your art supplies… and if you want to find out more details, check out their searchable online directory of Certified Products, where you can find out the facts on everything from paints to glue listed there in all your favourite brands. The main seals you’ll see on artist products are :

apseal.jpgAP Seal : Artist materials with the AP seal are non-toxic and are deemed safe even if misused (such as ingestion) by a small child… that doesn’t mean eating ‘em won’t make you sick, so don’t eat your paint! And don’t let your kids eat paint either. “The new AP (Approved Product) Seal, with or without Performance Certification, identifies art materials that are safe and that are certified in a toxicological evaluation by a medical expert to contain no materials in sufficient quantities to be toxic or injurious to humans, including children, or to cause acute or chronic health problems.” Art & Creative Materials Institute (ACMI)
clseal.jpgCL Seal : “The CL Seal identifies products that are certified to be properly labeled in a program of toxicological evaluation by a medical expert for any known health risks and with information on the safe and proper use of these materials. This seal is currently replacing the HL Health Label (Cautions Required) Seal over a 5-year phase-in period. These two Seals appear on only 15% of the adult art materials in ACMI’s certification program and on none of the children’s materials. These products are also certified by ACMI to be labeled in accordance with the chronic hazard labeling standard…” Art & Creative Materials Institute (ACMI)

So there you go… it’s not as difficult as you’d think to make sure your art supplies are safe to use! If you liked this post, you might like to read this post with some Tips on How to Handle your Art Supplies Safely.

Filed under: business of illustration

6 Comments »

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Pingback by blog.illustrationcastle.com » The Little Boy’s Smile | Step-by-Step Painting

December 6, 2007 @ 7:07 pm

[…] • Glue them to the cold-press illustration board (I used an entire large Bostik Blustick ACMI AP Approved gluestick… and was sure to recycle the empty casing!), then use a wood-cut ink roller to smooth the pages down so there are no wrinkles […]

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Comment by Dr. Dildar Ahmad

March 12, 2008 @ 10:58 am

Parents and others buying art materials, school supplies and toys such as crayons, paint sets, or modeling clay should be alert and purchase only those products which are accompanied by the statement “Conforms to ASTM D-4236.” SEALS OF ANY COMPANY ARE NOT NECESSARY IN THE PRESENCE OF THE CONFORMANCE STATEMENT.

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Comment by Kouser Qureshi

March 26, 2008 @ 10:53 am

THESE SEALS DO NOT GUARANTEE 100% SAFETY OF ART MATERIALS. RATHER THEY CAN MISGUIDE PARENTS, TEACHERS, STUDENTS and ARTISTS.

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Pingback by blog.illustrationcastle.com » The Brotherhood of the Stinky Underpants | Doggy Brown

September 9, 2008 @ 6:20 pm

[…] I’ve been using Reeves acrylics so far, but find that they dry too quickly to be able to blend smoothly the skin tones, so I’m trying out some new acrylics called Atelier Interractive (which have the A.P. Non-toxic seal, read more about deciphering art supply health labels on the next post ), they can be reconstituted with water for about 24 hours… and they are such a help with working with skin tones that need to be smooth, they make blending a dream. They dry with a matte finish as well, which doesn’t leave that plasticy shiny finish the other acrylics do. […]

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Comment by samantha

March 26, 2009 @ 9:50 am

ACMI products do not guarantee people safety, they are a marketing gimmick.ACMI has been involved in numerous lawsuits regarding their seals. ACMI charges royalties and memberships for theior clients so they have no objective standing,they just want to sell their seals.

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Comment by sandrar

September 11, 2009 @ 1:22 pm

Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

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