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Pollution Prevention for Arts Education: Consumer Education
Table of Contents
Background and Overview
Reasons for Change
Health Effects
Regulations and Policies
P2 Opportunities
Consumer Education
Glossary of Terms
Green Products
Key Contacts
Complete List of Links

Essential Links:

Art and Creative Materials Institute
ACMI is recognized as a leading authority on art and craft materials, and they emphasize providing t...

Education -- Art Hazards List
Guidelines for Safe Use of Art and Craft Materials, cover letters for communicating with parents, an...

Greening Your Lessons -- Art
This portal provided by Greening Schools for art educator resources covers a broad spectrum of conc...

Guidelines for the Safe Use of Art and Craft Materials
This guide provides a focus on education guidelines for elementary art materials and exposure concer...

KidsArt Hands-on Art Education Art for Home and Schools
"At KidsArt, we do our best to provide only AP and CP Nontoxic certified products, or alert you if a...

Law Requires Review and Labeling of Art Materials, Including Children's Art and Drawing Products
In 1988, a law was signed by the President that required labeling of hazardous art materials. This ...

Material Safety Data Sheets for Benjamin Moore Paints
This resource provides on-line lists of material safety data sheets for exterior primer, exterior fi...

True Art Information
Available through True Art, this information covers art hazards, art materials, on-line art materi...

What's on the Label: Art and Hobby Supplies
Information on legislation, legal requirements, laws, labels, and additional resources is provided.

<big><b>Pollution Prevention for Art Education: Consumer Education </b></big>

This section provides sources for material information including material safety data sheets on commonly used art education supplies.

Some art and craft supplies contain known hazardous materials such as asbestos and heavy metals. Some supplies have instructive labeling, while on others the information is incomplete or nonexistent. Some of the materials are known human carcinogens, presenting risks to all but especially to young children.

Public opinion and attitudes tend to assume that once an item is on the market, it is considered reliable and safe to use. Additionally, consumers rely upon warning labels to help interpret the ingredients, hazards, and risks. Many consumers do not have appropriate background knowledge to interpret the chemical and industrial language required to make informed purchases. Some relatively easy-to-use, on-line tools can help consumers overcome these barriers.

Barriers to consumer education include the following:

  • Awareness of risks
  • Knowledge of substitutes
  • Ingredients
  • Vocabulary
  • Label information
  • Governmental requirements and enforcement

A number of on-line sources describe art and craft hazards as well as product and ingredient toxicity. Additional resources are provided at the bottom of the list on the right side of this page. An increasing number of states are establishing specific requirements for purchasing art and craft materials. These will be provided in the list of resources as they become available.

The Labeling of Hazardous Art Materials Act, signed into law in 1988, requires that all art materials be reviewed to determine the potential for causing a chronic hazard, and that appropriate warning labels be put on those art materials found to pose a chronic hazard. In summary, this law applies to many many children's toys as well as art supplies. Full requirements of this act and LHAMA can be viewed on CPSC Document #5015. Examples of the various labels are provided by the Art & Creative Materials Institute.

Vocabulary and understanding art and chemical terms also create barriers for making informed decisions. Silica, caustic, AP Seal, CL Seal, Certified non-toxic, chronic, acute, and LHAMA are some of the terms that will be encountered when reading art and craft supply labels. See the Glossary of Terms for explanations.

Material safety data sheets provide invaluable resources including ingredients, identification of any associated hazards, potential health effects (immediate and delayed), first-aid measures, fire-fighting measures, handling and storage, exposure controls, physical and chemical properties, stability and reactivity, U.S. federal and Canadian regulations, and more. An example of an MSDS is provided here for Elmer's Glue-All.

The Art & Creative Materials Institute provides certification criteria for supplies used in art education through its Web site. Manufacturers who participate are identified with a certification symbol on their products. Art supply labels are not consistent and the use of this certification is defined by a stringent set of criteria that proves consumer friendly.

Research quickly identifies appropriate substitutions as shown in the following table:


AvoidSubstitution Suggestions
Dry clay, powdered paint, and wheat paste, which may create inhalation hazards Wet or liquid products, and if dry, mix before your students are in the room
Rubber cement, turpentine, paint thinners, and solvent-based markersWater-based glues, paints, and washable markers
Cold-water and metal or commercial dyes Vegetable and plant-based dyes
Papier-macheBlack and white newspaper or recycled paper, and flour/water paste

The Topic Hub™ is a product of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx)

The Pollution Prevention for Arts Education Topic Hub™ was developed by:

Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable
Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable
Contact email:

Hub Last Updated: 7/31/2009