[alt-photo] FWD: lead white as ground

G Schmitz coldbay1 at gmail.com
Mon Mar 26 18:27:28 GMT 2012

FYR - this from

Conservation DistList
Instance: 25:43
Saturday, March 24, 2012


Date: 17 Mar 2012
From: Monona Rossol<actsnyc [at] cs__com>
Subject: Lead white of fine particle size

Marya Albrecht<marya.albrecht [at] live__nl>  writes

> >For my master thesis in paintings conservation, I am searching for
> >paintings in which lead white of a very fine and even particle size
> >has been used.
When you finish your thesis, I'd like to report on it in my

My reasons are that there is a huge push in the US art painting
community to go back to lead white grounds and pigments.  They are
telling the community that lead is the only proper ground.   So I'd
like to know as much about the problems of using lead white as I
can.  And at least getting them not to use really fine particle
sized lead white (0.5 microns) is important because this stuff is
respirable--that is, it can be inhaled easily into the deepest part
(alveoli) of the lung where there is no clearing mechanism and the
lead can be rapidly dissolved and absorbed into the blood stream.
(Lead carbonate also skin-absorbs.)

Currently, people here in the US are buying the powdered pigment
(e.g., Kremer, Natural Pigments, etc.) and mixing up their own. They
don't seem to care that if this is done in a school or any location
in which there are employees in the US, they are violating US laws.
Whenever lead is used in any way in which it can become airborne,
the employer comes under the OSHA Lead Standard.  The employer is
required to monitor the exposure of any potentially exposed employee
during their use of the lead compound.  This includes teachers and
even the janitor cleaning the area.

Based on these air sampling tests in the breathing zones of the
workers, the employer must create a written program detailing the
precautions that will be used to insure that these exposures will be
below the action limit for the standard of 0.03 mg/m3.  And every
time personnel or procedures change, the employees must be

The precautions can involve showers and changing rooms, special
ventilation systems, and in the worst cases, regular blood testing.

This is too expensive for most schools, so they simply violate the
laws. And sooner or later, my experience tells me, some student will
get their blood lead tested, find it is elevated, and sue the
school.  Then failure to follow this law can be used as evidence of
negligence on the part of the school.  I've seen scenarios like this

I believe there is a separate occupational lead regulation in the
Netherlands that has some of these features.

Ethically, students should not pay tuition to be injured or learn
how to break the law.

So, I look forward to your thesis with great interest.

Monona Rossol, M.S., M.F.A.,
industrial hygienist
Arts, Crafts and Theater Safety, Inc.
181 Thompson St., #23
New York NY 10012-2586


More information about the Alt-photo-process-list mailing list