Questions Regarding Toxic Oil Paints

Ask the Colourman ,

Question: Is bright yellow lake toxic, what pigments make the color?

A: Bright yellow lake is not toxic. PY3 makes the colour


Question: Why do your tubes come with fume warnings?

A: The fumes are in relation to extreme situations such as a fire; if the oil painting was to catch fire in an enclosed space with you inside of said space then the fumes would be dangerous for you to inhale.
Or for a cigarette smoker who may not realise that they are putting themselves at risk by smoking with small amounts of paint still on their hands.

I hope this helps ease your mind. They are simply there to make people aware of the potential dangers, but as long as you are practising a good level of health and safety as you paint then you should not have anything to worry about and as always we take the opportunity to stress the importance of ventilation when working with any Artist Materials – If the paint is toxic it will say so on the label but none the less, ventilation is key!


Question: Chinese vermillion contains mercury – how do you work with it (gloves, wash brushes, disposal etc), and are the dried paintings toxic too (should they not be touched)?

A: Vermillion is made from Mercury and Sulphur combined together and from a human point of view, the mercury is almost unremovable and therefore is considered not to post any hazard as a painting hanging on a wall. The only way the paintings containing Chinese Vermillion could be considered toxic would be if they were eaten.


Colours Labelled Toxic:

Genuine Naples Yellow Dark (No. 606)

Genuine Naples Yellow Light (No. 605)

Genuine Chinese Vermilion (No. 701)

Lemon Yellow (No. 108)

Lead Tin Yellow Lemon (No. 514)

Lead Tin Yellow Light (No. 512)

Stack Lead White (No. 703)

Cremnitz White No. 1 (No. 308)

Cremnitz White No. 2 (No. 307)

Foundation White (No. 225)


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