Artist Oil Paint Safe Handling
Caution and common sense is called for whenever using any artist oil paint, but certain paints require extra precautions. These are any lead based whites, Cremnitz White, Flake White, Flemish White, as well as Cadmium and Cobalt oil colors. Wash hands thoroughly after handling any oil color and never ingest. Many painters wear gloves to avoid any contact and should always be worn when grinding your own paint. Also, wear proper breathing mask whenever sanding paint. It is just too messy, no matter how careful you are.
Linseed Oil Safe Handling
Linseed oil is a naturally drying oil that can combust when rags, soaked in linseed oil, are exposed to air and combines with the oxygen molecules. This chemical reaction creates heat. If the linseed oil is on something like a cotton rag, it can catch fire at as low as 120 degrees. The right amount of ventilation and atmosphere can cause linseed oil and paint rags to easily self-ignite.
Linseed oil manufacturers suggest putting rags, paper towels, etc., soaked with linseed oil in a tightly sealed metal can (There are metal safety cans designed for this purpose, which take the human error out by having a foot lever to open the lid) You also can add water to the can to help prevent spontaneous combustion. Always tightly seal the lid and take the can to your local hazardous waste site for disposal.
We experienced this first hand, hopefully, using these easy steps for prevention, no one else will ever see this happen.
Dry Pigment Safe Handling
When dealing with dry pigments, or other dry ingredients, caution must be used to avoid breathing the dust that pigments generate. Just as with the oil paints, some pigments are more toxic than the others. Use common sense and treat all paint as potentially toxic when around dry pigments or sanding. Wear a NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) N95 certified surgical type of dust mask (note with lead pigment use N100 or HE). This type of mask will filter about 95% of the dust in the air. The problem with many other dust masks is that they sometimes don’t fit tightly enough on your face. The result is that they leak and the wearer may breathe dust particles. While a N95 dust mask is good, you get much better protection wearing a gas-mask (Chemical Cartridge) Respirator.
Use a fan to pull any dust away from you, preferably directing the dust outside, vented through a window or similar. You can also take a standard size box fan and attach a bungee cord to a 20×20 furnace filter to the intake side of the fan so it pulls air through the filter.
Once the pigments are incorporated with the oil there is far less chance of pigment dust floating around but caution should still be used and at least the fan left on and dust mask on.
Start good habits from the beginning and safe practice becomes second nature.