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Health and Safety Considerations in the Arts  

Last Updated: Sep 27, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Government Safety Guides

Art and Craft Safety Guide
This guide put out by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) gives information on both the fine arts and children’s crafts. Broken into three different sections, it explains the dangers in children’s crafts, the studio, and specific art materials.  Also provides safety and protective equipment recommendations. 

Environmental Health & Safety
in the Arts 

This guide was made by Pratt Institute for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and is the most in-depth of the guides listed here. Each type of art material is systematically gone through and any related potential health threat is discussed. There is also extensive information on minimizing exposure and proper disposal. 

Guides by Artists and Educators

Health Hazards and Safety Tips for Artists 
Put out by the Canadian Artist Representation this guide is written in narrative sections. This document is engaging for those who are more interested in the major health concerns facing each different field of the fine arts.
Safety Guide for Art Studios
Published by United Educators in 2000, this guide discusses the different health hazards facing artists in their studio.  This guide lays out the difference between acute physical hazards, and chronic problems and the dangers associated with specific fields of fine art using charts that are easy to understand. 

The Health & Safety Guide for Film, TV & Theater
By Monona Rossol
This book is a comprehensive look at the dangers facing those involved in film and theater, including paints, make up, and solvents. Monona Rossol also runs an organization dedicated to improving safety in the performance arts called Arts, Crafts & Theater Safety (ACTS). 

Interactive Guides

The Healthy Artist Guide to a Less Toxic Studio
Environmental Defence Canada is an organization working to protect both the environment and human health. The site discusses both general risks artists could be taking in the studio, as well as specific chemicals to watch out for and better substitutes and alternatives, all in an easily understood chart. 

Art Hazard News 
This Chicago Artists Resource has an interactive section on their site that details different disorders and problems that arise for various types of artists. It is easy to navigate and has information on a variety of different topics within the realm of health hazards in the arts.

Nontoxic Printmaking, Safe Painting & Printed Art 
This site discusses healthier ways to do painting, printmaking, and photography and a description on the main dangers these artists face.  

This is a database on occupational health concerns on specific substances used in various types of crafts, put out by the National Institute of Health.

Additional Information

Alternatives: It is important to remember than many of the alternative substances and methods are also stand-alone art practices, rather than simply a substitute for a more toxic chemical. Each material is different and has unique properties. When trying out an alternative, keep your mind open about the process and end result. 

Disposal: If you do have extra paint, photo processesing chemicals, or other toxic chemicals that you are no longer using, these subtances are now categorized as Hazardous Waste. Most towns have a day once a year where "Household hazardous wastes" can be collected. Check with your town's recycling program to see when it is. A list of Massachusetts Towns recycling programs can be found here.

Labeling: A 1991 investigation on the amount of toxic chemicals in art materials and whether or not products were labeled clearly and additional information was available to the consumer can be found here.

Testing: The Arts and Creative Materials Institute (ACMI) is responsible for labeling and ensuring that all arts materials are safe to use. A copy of some of the reports on exposure and toxicity of a variety of arts materials can be found here, on the Toxicology department of Duke University website.

Toxics Use Reduction Institute - University of Massachusetts Lowell
600 Suffolk St. - Wannalancit Mills - Lowell MA 01854

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