Warnings on a product label should be your first alert as to
hazards of the product. You should also get a Material Safety
Data Sheet on the product.
The Labeling of Hazardous Art Materials Act of 1988 (LHAMA)
requires art and craft manufacturers to determine whether their
products have the potential to cause chronic illness, and to
place labels on those products that do. This includes industrial
materials such as screen printing inks, plastics resins, ceramics
materials, etc. if the products are sold in art supply stores or
other walk-in locations where consumers can purchase them, if the
manufacturer advertises them as suitable for making art, or sells
them to schools. If they does not meet these requirements, but
are hazardous, they would still have to be labeled with their
identities and hazard information under OSHA's Hazard
A proper warning label under LHAMA must have the following
1) A signal word to tell you the extent of the hazard. DANGER is
the most serious, followed by WARNING and CAUTION
respectively. DANGER is used for products that are highly toxic,
corrosive or extremely flammable. WARNING or CAUTION are used
for substances that are less hazardous. WARNING is also used for
products that only have chronic hazards.
2) A list of potential hazard, in order of descending severity,
giving the known significant acute and chronic hazards under
reasonably foreseeable use of the product. This section should
also specify the type of hazard. A rubber cement containing
hexane, for example, should state "May damage central and
peripheral nervous system by inhalation or skin contact." There
must also be a warning that the product is "Extremely Flammable."
3) A list of the common or usual names of hazardous ingredients
and known hazardous decomposition products, with acutely
hazardous ingredients listed first. If there is no common name,
then chemical names should be used. This list should include
known sensitizers present in sufficient amounts to cause allergic
reactions in sensitized individuals. In the above example, the
rubber cement should state "Contains n-Hexane."
4) A list of safe handling instructions should include
appropriate precautionary statements concerning fire safety, work
practices, ventilation, and personal protection. For the rubber
cement, the statements would include such statements as "Avoid
inhaling vapors or skin contact. Use only in well-ventilated
areas. When using, do not smoke, drink, or eat." There would
also be fire precautions.
5) A first aid section includes recommendations for emergency
first aid. For the rubber cement, this would include: "If
swallowed, do not induce vomiting. Call Physician Immediately."
6) Sources of further information could include referrals to a
local poison center, 24-hour emergency number, availability of
MSDSs, and other information.
7) The label must carry the statement "Conforms to ASTM D-4236"
or a similar statement.
8) If there are warnings, then the label must also state that the
product is not suitable for children.