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Reports From the road – Interactive Health & Safety

It’s been a busy, busy summer and fall for Chroma USA! Since my last Report from the Road, I’ve been all around the USA visiting art societies, colleges and retail stores, talking about Interactive. Our team of Regional Teaching Artists has been just as busy, giving workshops and teaching in their areas of the country. I’ve found that some artists attended my workshops were familiar with Interactive wanted to get some painting tips; others were brand new to the Interactive painting experience. Either way, I’m always so impressed by their creativity. I intend to take my digital camera with me on future workshops so I can upload some pictures, too. All of the artists I’ve met at my workshops have been friendly and curious about the paint – so thank you for being a great part of our Chroma Community!

In addition to traveling and teaching, I also answer questions about Interactive via email (, the phone and here on Paint Talk. I recently had an artist write to me about health concerns, mediums and Interactive. She has a health condition called MCS, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities and needs to be very careful about what she uses.

So here’s some good info on Interactive with regards to health safety issues.

All artists’ paints carry regulatory statements set up by ACMI to provide guidelines for occupational use (i.e. day to day) by persons who do not have health problems. Anyone with MCS or similar conditions would have to be guided by medical advice aided by whatever they notice personally and can ask their doctor about.

Sensible use takes care of problems related to using pigments contained in paints, because they are not volatile. Sensitivity is always about volatile chemicals. Commonly, it is solvents used with oil paints. Acrylics, being water based, are more likely to be usable by sensitized people, but the subject of ventilation is often overlooked. A gentle cross current of fresh air is easily set up in mild climates, like most of Australia and some parts of the US, but many people often have a closed system supplying cool or warm air. While an OSHA mask capable of filtering whatever the problem chemical is might be helpful they are often uncomfortable or intolerable to wear. A filter added to the air conditioning unit could really help.

Do the mediums contain an odor? The odor in the other acrylics I used indicated some sort of a solvent or mineral spirit to which I am sensitive.

The Slow and Fast Mediums do not have an odor. The Binder Medium has a bit of an odor when I sniff the bottle, but it is not a solvent nor does it contain mineral spirits; I think it's just the emulsion. The Unlocking Formula is isopropyl alcohol based, so if the smell of rubbing alcohol bothers you, than I'd avoid this one.

Are the mediums that are used with INTERACTIVE Acrylics for impasto, speeding drying, or slowing it down, the same ingredients as those used by the acrylic paints of other companies, or your other acrylic paints? I find they have a definite odor distinct from the acrylic paints themselves, which are practically odorless.

Not knowing what in other acrylics causes your allergies, I cannot say for certain. I spoke with our chemist who assures me that we use professional pigments and emulsions to create our paint and mediums. Atelier Interactive MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) can be found here. Sometimes the air that's trapped in a tube or jar of paint can cause an odor when released, but that should dissipate quickly.

Are any of the ingredients toxic?

In the paint themselves, cadmium pigments and cobalt pigments should not be inhaled, so wear a mask or respirator if you are sanding your work. In the Unlocking Formula, there is isopropyl alcohol, which is flammable.

Do you have further questions regarding health and safety, if so please add a comment below.