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  1. #1

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    Handcolouring causes cancer

    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. #2

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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. #3
    jovo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joshverd View Post
    "Warning:this product contains a chemical known to the state of California to cause cancer(and birth defects) or other reproductive harm."
    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.
    John Voss

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  4. #4

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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. #5
    Monophoto's Avatar
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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.
    Louie

  6. #6

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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 joshverd; 01-14-2007 at 06:24 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: typo

  7. #7
    Petzi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joshverd View Post
    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...
    You should probably be more worried about the fumes at the gas station.
    If you're not taking your camera...there's no reason to travel. --APUG member bgilwee

  8. #8

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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. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3Dfan View Post
    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.
    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. #10
    DrPablo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jovo View Post
    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.
    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:

    Environmental Health Perspect. 2006 Sep;114(9):1471-8.

    Scott CS, Chiu WA

    National Center for Environmental Assessment, Office of Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, USA.

    A large body of epidemiologic evidence exists for exploring causal associations between cancer and trichloroethylene (TCE) exposure. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2001 draft TCE health risk assessment concluded that epidemiologic studies, on the whole, support associations between TCE exposure and excess risk of kidney cancer, liver cancer, and lymphomas, and, to a lesser extent, cervical cancer and prostate cancer. As part of a mini-monograph on key issues in the health risk assessment of TCE, this article reviews recently published scientific literature examining cancer and TCE exposure and identifies four issues that are key to interpreting the larger body of epidemiologic evidence: a) relative sensitivity of cancer incidence and mortality data ; b) different classifications of lymphomas, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma ; c) differences in data and methods for assigning TCE exposure status ; and d) different methods employed for causal inferences, including statistical or meta-analysis approaches. The recent epidemiologic studies substantially expand the epidemiologic database, with seven new studies available on kidney cancer and somewhat fewer studies available that examine possible associations at other sites. Overall, recently published studies appear to provide further support for the kidney, liver, and lymphatic systems as targets of TCE toxicity, suggesting, as do previous studies, modestly elevated (typically 1.5-2.0) site-specific relative risks, given exposure conditions in these studies. However, a number of challenging issues need to be considered before drawing causal conclusions about TCE exposure and cancer from these data.
    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 DrPablo; 01-15-2007 at 01:04 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    Paul

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