Under the Federal Labeling of Hazardous Art Materials Act (LHAMA), which went into effect on November 18, 1990, every manufacturer, distributor, retailer and some purchasers (schools and teachers) of art materials in the U.S. have a legal responsibility to comply with LHAMA's requirements. And, it affects every user of art materials in that it helps the art materials industry deliver safer products to their artists, hobbyists, and children alike.


What does this law require of manufacturers of art materials?

The law amends the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA) to require art and craft materials manufacturers to evaluate their products for their ability to cause chronic illness and to place labels on those that do. FHSA already required manufacturers to evaluate and label for acute hazards. The law enacts ASTM D-4236, a standard for evaluating chronic hazards already in use by 85-90% of the art and craft materials manufacturers before the law went into effect, and provides for enacting any future revisions to the standard. The law requires the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to develop guidelines for evaluation criteria for toxicologists to use under ASTM D-4236 and to develop and distribute educational information about art materials. The law requires a statement on the label of a product with a chronic hazard potential that the product is inappropriate for use by children and permits CPSC to enjoin the purchase of such an art material for use in grades pre-K through 6. Additionally, CPSC has required that an appropriate telephone number (in most cases, that of the manufacturer) be printed on all products that have a chronic hazard warning and a conformance statement to ASTM D-4236 on all products – non-toxic or toxic. CPSC also requires that products with a chronic hazard meet the same typeface size and placement requirements under FHSA as those required for acute hazard warnings.

What are my liabilities as a distributor or retailer?

Aside from the existing potential liability under the "common law," LHAMA adds specific responsibilities and liabilities under FHSA. If an art or craft material is one that could cause chronic health effects and is not labeled in accordance with LHAMA, the product is a misbranded hazardous substance and, technically, could be seized. In addition, any person, including a retailer, may be charged with a criminal violation, fines and imprisonment for distributing a mislabeled product. Bills have been introduced in Congress to increase these existing penalties and to provide for civil penalties as well as fines. A retailer can be held liable if that retailer sells a product that is not labeled properly by the manufacturer, although the most likely scenario would be enforcement against a non-complying manufacturer first. Every distributor or retailer should buy and sell only product evaluated and labeled as conforming to ASTM D-4236.

What are my responsibilities as a teacher or a purchaser for schools?

LHAMA permits CPSC to enjoin the purchase of any art or craft material with a chronic hazard warning label for use in grades pre-K through 6. These products can be purchased for use in grades 7-12. It may amount to professional malpractice for a teacher or school to ignore these requirements, aside from any civil or other liability concerns. Although the law does not specifically address this point, if an elementary grade teacher purchases such a product for his or her own use on student artwork, the teacher should use the product only after classes are over, should follow the safe use instructions on the label for his or her own safety, and should store the product outside of the classroom.

When did LHAMA take effect?

As of November 18, 1990, all art materials that were entered into commerce were required to be evaluated and labeled according to the law. CPSC then developed toxicological criteria by which products should be evaluated. Currently, all manufacturers are required to have their products evaluated according to these criteria or other criteria, such as those used by ACMI's toxicologist, that have been accepted by CPSC.

What is required to meet the law?

All art and craft materials must be evaluated by a qualified toxicologist under the provisions of ASTM D-4236. If a product is determined to present no acute or chronic health hazard, there need only be a conformance statement to ASTM D 4236 on the package. If a product is determined to have a hazard associated with its misuse, the package must bear a health warning and safe use instructions and a statement that the product is not appropriate for use by children. The product must also have a conformance statement to D-4236 and an appropriate U.S. telephone number. (This number does not have to be a 24-hour toll-free number and can be the number of the manufacturer or U.S. importer.) The label must also conform to the same typeface size and placement requirements under FHSA as those for acute hazards. CPSC is enforcing LHAMA and is contacting manufacturers, checking product labels in stores and at industry trade shows, and is checking labels of products imported to the U.S.

How can I tell if a product has been evaluated?

Look for the conformance statement to ASTM D-4236, as well as the ACMI Seals. These Seals indicate that the product has been evaluated in compliance to ASTM D-4236 and LHAMA. To ensure that the packaging is up to date, you can check for the product on our Certified Product List.

Products in the ACMI certification program bear the AP or CL certification marks as indicated below:

More than 60,000 art material formulations have currently been evaluated in the ACMI program, and more than 200 manufacturers of art and craft materials participate in ACMI's program!

 For further information please contact:

The Art and Creative Materials Institute, Inc.
99 Derby St., Suite 200
Hingham, MA 02043
Tel. (781) 556-1044
Fax (781) 207-5550
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