Handcolouring causes cancer

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by joshverd, Jan 14, 2007.

  1. joshverd

    joshverd Member

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    I am new to handcolouring and really excited about giving it a try. I ordered a pack of Mashall's photo oils. They arrived, and upon reading the information packet contained within the box there was the following message:

    "Warning:this product contains a chemical known to the state of California to cause cancer(and birth defects) or other reproductive harm."

    I was shocked. Good thing I live in Texas...

    But on a serious note, does anyone know what "chemical" they speak of? This was a little starter set that contained the following:

    9 photo oils
    1 tube extender
    1 bottle P.M. solution

    I imagine it is the cadmium colours, but am unsure. The P.M. solution looked suspicious until I found out it was just D-limonene and vegetable oils.

    And how invasive are we talking here? I'm not planning on eating the colours. So my worry is there are fumes involved? You tell me...

    Thanks,
    Josh
     
  2. kevin klein

    kevin klein Member

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    Chemical concern

    Josh

    I have been working with paints and colvents for years, Almost any thing chemical made now days is going to have a warning or disclamer like that, and you can ask any artist what they might think.

    You more than likley have much worse stuff under your kitchen sink.
    If the hazzard in the colores was so bad I doubt if it would be on the open market. Just be careful not to get a bunch on your fingers and transfer it to food or cigies, just wipe them off good first with mineral spirits then wash with soap and water.

    I often times use my bare fingers to color large areas.
     
  3. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    What would be less alarming and more accurate would be a statement that also included the sentence: "When using this product in the manner for which it is designed and instructions are given, there is no risk of harm." However, the threat of legal shenanigans seems ever more often to make simple common sense to be legally inadequate.
     
  4. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    Most chemicals, especially carcinogens, cause harm roughly in proportion to exposure. I therefore strongly urge you to think twice before eating a second helping.
     
  5. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    Josh -

    There is an enormous difference between containing a chemical known to cause cancer, and any actual instances of cancer traceable to the use of a Marshall's coloring kit.

    I haven't done any actual research in this field, but it would be interesting to develop some real statistics that correlate chemicals with human fatalities. I have a suspicion that such data would demonstrate rather conclusively that the most dangerous chemical we ever encounter is - - - water.

    The bottom line is that no photo chemicals are meant for human consumption. Use reasonable caution, and enjoy the process.
     
  6. joshverd

    joshverd Member

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    Funny bit of information I found on the web. As I said earlier, the P.M. solution is made of D-limonene and vegetable oils.

    I found this except:

    D-limonene is a terpene, a compound found in plants. The best source of d-limonene is the oil from orange peels. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin found that when d-limonene was added to the diets of rats who had developed tumors, 90% of them had their tumors disappear completely. In a related study, animals that were given d-limonene one hour before being exposed to known carcinogens, were protected from the effects of the carcinogens at a highly significant rate.

    There you have it, they all even out. I will just drink the P.M. before working, and problem solved.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 14, 2007
  7. Petzi

    Petzi Member

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    You should probably be more worried about the fumes at the gas station.
     
  8. 3Dfan

    3Dfan Member

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    It's funny that, of all the threads I've seen debating the health impact of traditional photo chemicals and materials, not one ever seems to discuss the negative health impacts of the alternative of sitting in front of a computer all day to use gimp or PS.
     
  9. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Actually, I think there is a growing body of evidence of the deleterious effects of "excessive" computer usage (including gaming etc.). Most have dealt with the negative mental heath effects (e.g. aggression, depression, obsessive-compulsive behavior etc.).

    And of course, physically there is carpal tunnel syndrome etc.

    As to the OP, I think this kind of "premptive warning label" has been brought on by the artistic community itself. There have been many concerns expressed by artists regarding the saftety of the materials they work with. So what you have here is an instance of a manufacturer playing it safe and giving a "heads up" warning in order to try and avoid any future law suits.

    It's unclear whether these kinds of warnings (similar to the "Caution: This container contains hot liquids...." statements you see on Starbuck coffee cups) actually do innoculate a company from a lawsuit - but they do provide one aspect of defense.
     
  10. DrPablo

    DrPablo Member

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    I hear where you're coming from, but on both technical and medical grounds I can't agree with the statement you've proposed.

    There is a good reason that such a statement is legally inadequate -- it's because it is not known and cannot be known. It simply cannot be proved, especially to the degree of certainty that you've put into that sentence. You would need a sample size that exceeds the number of actual users of the product, follow them for decades, control for all other confounding variables, and match them with a control group that does not use these chemicals at all.

    So maybe they're 100% safe when used as described by the manufacturer. Or maybe there is a relative risk of 1.5 or 2.1 or whatever for renal cell carcinoma in people who exceed a certain threshhold of exposure (again, very difficult to define at low, sub-occupational exposure levels).

    Many organic solvents have been associated with cancers. The Marlene cleaner in the Marshall oil set contains trichloroethylene, which is a pretty famous one (and probably the carcinogen to which the warning refers). It's probably unlikely that a typical hobbyist will be at increased risk for cancer from this chemical, and there are other more important exposures (like filling your car) but again, it's hard to know.

    Here is the abstract from a recent review on trichloroethylene:

    So I'd avoid contact with bare skin and use it in a well ventilated area. Seems pretty safe and easy to me.

    As for why the warning is there, it's because there is indeed a body of evidence to support its truth. It's not quite as blisteringly obvious as say smoking and lung cancer, but the warnings are on cigarette packs for a reason and the warnings are on other harmful products for a reason as well.

    Perhaps the bottom line is avoiding legal liability. But at the same time if there is a risk of harm to the consumer, then as a consumer you want the opportunity to make an informed choice. For example, if you have chronic hepatitis B, then it's really in your best interest to avoid a second cause of hepatocellular carcinoma. It's easy to be cynical about our very litigious culture in the USA, and being in medicine I'm as cynical as anyone about it. But think as a consumer advocate for a second, and you'll see that informed decision-making really is an expectation that we all share, and if there is a known risk inherent in some product, we have the right to know.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 15, 2007
  11. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear George,

    Yes, but are people confusing cause and effect? Is it only aggrerssive, depressive obsessive-compulsives who would WANT to do this sort of thing?

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  12. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    Interesting and informative post. I would amend my statement to be much less absolute then. But with all you've stated, perhaps it would make the best sense to make warnings more complete by speaking to the greater degree of risk for those who may be most sensitive as well as the general user.
     
  13. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    I DON'T WANT TO, I HAVE TO!

    WHY THE HECK DO YOU THINK I'M DEPRESSED?!

    :wink:



    (No offense intended to any sufferers of any of the above conditions, which are very real and very serious.)
     
  14. reellis67

    reellis67 Subscriber

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    Josh,

    Oil paints, as well as acrylics and watercolors, use certain compunds that have known health hazards, but generaly speaking, as long as you plan to follow through with your commitment not to consume the paints, you will likely be just fine. If you are very concerned about it, wear gloves when working with these paints.

    Many manufacturers are now telling what compounds they use in their paints, but for a long time this was not the norm. Most people kept their fomulas close, like many photographic formulas, in order to maintain their ability to compete and to make it harder for others to copy their best formulas. One of the best sources for information on what goes in any given manufacturers paints is that manufacturer, as most colors could use any number of differnt components, depending on the quality of the end result. If asked, I *believe* that a company will at least give you an MSDS for their products, which will at least let you know what is in there, if not the quantity.

    Metals are common in art paints, some of which are kind of nasty if you were to get them into your body. Oils paint use an oil - and there are a large number of different oils that could be used - and turpentine, or related compund, as a transport for the pigments and dyes. This is what you smell when using the product, undoubtably with some influence of the pigments and/or dyes, but mostly the oil and turpentine. If you would like to know more about how oils are made and used, as well as a little primer on risks associtated with oil paints, locate a copy of "The Artist's Handbook of Materials and Techniques" by Ralph Mayer (ISBN:0670837016)

    - Randy
     
  15. DrPablo

    DrPablo Member

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    In some cases that does happen. Like with aspartame (Nutrasweet) -- there is a genetic disease called PKU (phenylketonuria), in which infants and young children with this disease are usually completely normal, but they can develop mental retardation if exposed to aspartame early in life or during fetal development. We screen all babies for the disease now. So children who have it, and pregnant women who carry it (and might be having a child with it) need to avoid this chemical. If you look on the bottle of diet soft drinks, you'll see a specific warning for people with PKU.

    As for this one chemical I've discussed in the Marshall oils, the problem (that I gather from the abstract) is that the entirety of the risk isn't nearly so well understood or defined. So while certain groups may be at particular risk, that doesn't mean that the general population is at no risk whatsoever; and it's also impossible to give a warning for every possible risk group.

    For example, the abstract highlights the associations with renal cell carcinoma (twice as common in smokers), hepatocellular carcinoma (most commonly found in people with chronic hep B, chronic hep C, and alcoholism), and leukemia (no identified risk factor for the vast majority of people who have it). Throw in all the other risk factors I haven't named (like family history) and probably 1000 other things I can't think of, and you have a warning label that's too long to read and too short to be comprehensive.

    Finally, as mentioned above, a warning label can't go into exhaustive detail. But what it can do, if you're curious, is afford you the opportunity to contact the company, find out which chemicals they're using, get access to the MSDS (material safety data sheet), and through whatever means (including your primary physician or an occupational health specialist) get more info about the chemicals and their clinical associations.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 15, 2007
  16. mikeb6350

    mikeb6350 Member

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    Everyone is so careful about that particular warning here in California that even the restaurants and grocery stores have a sign with the same warning or something to the effect of "Products in this building may contain chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects".
    Store, gas stations, laundry buildings, manufactuing facilities, etc. Almost all of them use the same generic little white sign with black lettering about 7 x 9 inches.
     
  17. bobherbst

    bobherbst Member

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    Consider the source - California. Watch two hours of local prime time television in the state of California and count the number of advertisements by ambulance chasers and you will understand why you see so many warnings. Oxalic acid used in Pt/Pd printing can be deadly in sufficient quantities. Spinach contains oxalic acid but you would have to eat 12 pounds of spinach to receive a lethal dose. Do you know how much 12 pounds of spinach is? Your entire digestive system could not contain it. Treat all chemicals with respect and use the proper protection. But in most cases, the stuff on the shelf in your local garden store is far worse than most darkroom chemicals. Just take a wiff and you can smell the danger. I live in Ohio. We still have ambulance chasers but not as many and fewer disclaimers.
     
  18. Antje

    Antje Member

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    Yes, that totally scared me when I went to CA for the first time. We staid at a Best Western and saw this sign there too. In Germany, if you read such a sign, you'd better turn and run - and I had to learn to ignore that in CA. :smile:

    Antje