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What Is ASTM D-4236?

Assortment of open paint cans

ASTM International, previously known as the American Society for Testing and Materials, is a leading global authority on the development of safety standards for consumer products. Their "D-4236" designation is meant to alert consumers of any chronic health hazards that may result from using art-related supplies. In 1990, the Labeling of Hazardous Art Materials Act, or LHAMA, made it a federal requirement for all such supplies to feature the D-4236 designation on their labels.

Meaning and Scope

Art supplies intended for individual use only must feature a precautionary label listing any ingredients that a board-certified toxicologist feels could have adverse health effects on the user. Labeling should take into account any foreseeable forms of use or misuse.

Members and Their Mission

ASTM solicits testimony from a volunteer membership of more than 30,000 technical experts in 150 different countries when creating their standards. Members from the toxicology world intent on reducing harm caused by art supplies were instrumental in crafting D-4236.

Product Examples

Products that feature a D-4236 label include pastes, glues and adhesive tapes; water-based, oil-based, powdered and acrylic paints; paint thinners; crayons, markers and colored pencils; flour-based, earth-based, oil-based and polymer clay; ceramic glazes; and aprons.

What It Means for Kids

The D-4236 designation does not necessarily mean the product is completely safe for children. Only the "Approved" logo from Info. Tox. International and the "AP" logo from the Art and Creative Materials Institute (ACMI) mean it was deemed non-toxic for youngsters. ACMI's "CL" logo means children in grade six or below should not use the product at all, while those in seven or higher should use it only with adult supervision.

About the Author

Mark Heidelberger has been writing for more than 22 years, from articles and short stories to novels and screenplays. He is a consummate foodie, loves to travel and has run several businesses, all of which influence his work. He also holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from UCLA.