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Pollution Prevention for Arts Education: Health Effects
Table of Contents
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Arts and Crafts Can Be Hazardous
Craft materials are listed that contain toxic or harmful chemicals along, with some information on r...

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

Health and Safety in the Arts
This site offers a collection of searchable databases for art media, studio safety, and health links...

Keeping the Artist Safe: Hazards of Arts and Crafts Materials
This compilation from the National Library of Medicine provides an overview of hazards encountered i...

Looking at Arts and Crafts for Unsafe Chemicals
This brief report introduces some health concerns associated with art supplies and children.

Overview of Hazards
This overview includes terminology, types of exposures, allergic reactions, and safety issues in cas...

U.S. EPA: Human Health Research Program
EPA's Human Health Research Program offers this Web site on the latest information on its research t...

<big><b>Pollution Prevention for Art Education: Health Effects</b></big>

This section provides current research and information on long- and short-term health effects (for students and instructors) associated with traditional art education practices that use hazardous materials.

Asbestos, heavy metals, organic solvents, and other toxic ingredients found in some art and craft materials generate risks for the artists and students using them. Frequently used without knowledge of risks, these can be manipulated by students with disregard to health or safety issues. The nature of art encourages students to explore non-traditional uses in order to create unusual pieces. Unidentified and unknown risks associated with these hazardous materials can also pose "take-home" risks for family members.

In kindergarten and elementary grades, young children cannot be expected to follow safety guidelines. All materials used with children must be compliant with the LHAMA (Labeling of Hazardous Art Materials Act). Use of these materials often results in contact with mouth, eyes, skin, hair, clothing, and food. Exposure occurs through inhalation, ingestion, and skin contact. Dust, powders, vapors, gases, and aerosols are readily inhaled. Long-term damage can result from silica or asbestos in clays. Risks increase in younger students whose developing bodies have less tolerance for exposures to hazardous substances because of their smaller sizes, higher metabolic rates, immature immune systems, and rapidly developing bodies. Younger students, with their increased hand-to-mouth activities, may also ingest more toxic materials leading, to larger exposures than those of adults using the same products.

In the upper-grade levels and adult art education, while the bodies are more tolerant of exposures to hazardous substances, the materials are often more hazardous, less regulated, and exposures more prolonged. Cadmium, asbestos, lead, and benzene are sources of known carcinogens. Prolonged exposure while completing art projects heightens the risk.

Environmental and personal hazards resulting from exposure to and contact with toxic materials exist in all of the arts, not just painting or ceramics. Research and information on issues found throughout the arts and crafts will be provided. Examples of some of the art forms and areas of concern include the following:

Art Form Material or Process Toxic Exposure
Batik wax, dyes fumes from wax, hazardous metals in dyes
Ceramics clay, glazes silica, lead, cadmium
Enameling enamels arsenic, cadmium, cobalt
Forging hot forge carbon monoxide, aromatic hydrocarbons
Glassblowing coloring metal fumes
Jewelry making reclaiming of gold cyanide, lead, mercury
Lithography acids hydrofluoric acid
Painting pigments cadmium, cobalt, lead
Photography various baths acid, sulfur dioxide, hydroquinone
Printing solvents mineral spirits, toluene, xylene
Sculpture (plastic, stone) dusts silica, asbestiform materials, ketone peroxides
Stained glass soldering lead and zinc chloride fumes
Woodworking strippers toluene, methyl alcohol


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

Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable
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Hub Last Updated: 7/31/2009