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Comparing cadmium and cadmium-free Liquitex paints. (All images courtesy of Colart International Ltd.)

Art has always been about risk taking, but it shouldn’t have to mean risking your health. While artists of the past used far more hazardous chemicals like cinnabar and lead, artists today still contend with countless solvents, resins, and pigments that can be harmful. For one of these chemicals, cadmium, there is now a solution. Liquitex, the inventor of the world’s first water-based acrylic paint, has developed an alternative: Liquitex Cadmium-Free.

Liquitex Cadmium-Free Heavy Body Acrylic Paint is the world’s first parity replacement for acrylic paints containing cadmium, as affirmed by artists and scientists alike. Developed over three years by a team of chemists, Cadmium-Free was subjected to rigorous testing for lightfastness, brightness, color strength and shade, handling, weight, and coverage in order to crack the cadmium code.

After development, a group of artists were recruited by Liquitex to perform a blind test. They were provided with two unmarked tubes of matching paint: one containing Liquitex Cadmium-Free, and one containing its cadmium-including counterpart. They were told that the study included a placebo group. After four weeks of testing, during which the artists maintained rigorous notes, the majority of artists reported the belief that they were in the placebo group; none identified their paint as being Cadmium-Free.

Although there is no universal view on the potential harm of cadmium pigments, Liquitex felt it was important to offer artists a cadmium-free alternative, allowing artists to choose for themselves. Liquitex understands that artists have deep attachments to their materials, and will continue to manufacture acrylic paints containing cadmium.

Liquitex would like to invite a limited number of Hyperallergic readers to take the Liquitex Cadmium-Free Challenge. Can you tell which paint you are using?

Click here to receive a free Liquitex Cadmium-Free Challenge kit and see the (lack of) difference for yourself!

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