Your Craft Business and Your Health
Consider the short and long term risks to
your health, especially with a home-based business.
Arts and crafts product labels
Always read the packaging label on any arts and crafts product or tool.
Follow carefully the directions and precautions listed on the label.
If the arts and crafts product label does not have enough information
for you to decide whether it is safe, contact the manufacturer. Look
for the company's phone number or address on the label.
Ask the manufacturer about product use with young children and pets
in your house. Also, ask for a copy of the Material Safety Data Sheet
(MSDS). The MSDS gives specific information about flammability, toxicity,
ingredients, and use.
When reading the product label, look for these three phrases:
2. Meets American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) regulations for
chronic long-term health hazards
3. Certified Product (CP) or Approved Product (AP).
When a manufacturer advertises a product as "nontoxic," it
means the product has passed the acute or short-term toxicity test required
by the Federal Hazardous Substance Act. Nothing, however, is implied
about the product's long-term toxicity. Therefore, materials that may
cause long-term toxicity could carry a "nontoxic" label.
(2) Meets ASTM regulations for long-term health hazards
To address the issue of long-term toxicity, the Labeling of Hazardous
Art Materials Act took effect in 1990. This new law requires labels
of hazardous art materials to disclose the potential for chronic long-term
The Labeling of Hazardous Art Materials Act supplements the Federal
Hazardous Substances Act. This act spells out labeling requirements
for acute hazards such as flammability or irritation.
Some manufacturers voluntarily have labeled arts and crafts materials
for such hazards. The new law, however, mandates labeling standards.
The law requires labeling of such products as solvents, spray paints,
silk screen inks, adhesives, and any other "substance marketed
or represented as suitable for use in any phase of the creation of a
visual or graphic art of any medium." Although only potentially
hazardous art materials must have safety labeling, all art materials
should bear a statement indicating if they conform with ASTM D-4236-88
as in Example 1.
(3) Certified Product (CP) or Approved Product (AP)
The Certified Product (CP) or Approved Product (AP) seal identifies
some art materials as safe for use with children and pets in the house.
To carry either of these seals, an authority on toxicology from the
Art and Craft Materials Institute has evaluated the product. This certification
means there are no materials in the art product in sufficient quantity
to be toxic or to injure the body even if ingested.
Beware of exposing the children in your care (your staff and yourself,
too) to the toxic and harmful chemicals found in some arts and crafts
materials. Exposure may occur through the skin, by inhalation, or by
Through the skin---Exposure through the skin may result in skin problems
and dermatitis. Skin is a protective organ. Acids, alkalis, peroxides,
organic solvents, bleaches and other chemicals may penetrate and injure
Inhalation---You can inhale smoke, fumes, dusts, and spray mists. These
materials may damage the lining of your airways and lungs.
Ingestion--Ingestion of dangerous materials may occur when you eat,
drink, or prepare food with contaminated hands or while wearing contaminated
clothing. It also occurs when you use contaminated containers or utensils
for serving or storing food.
Substitute--Use less hazardous art materials and solvents instead of
more harmful products. There are many substitutions that may be safer
for use with a home-based business.
For example, use water-based products instead of oil-based. Remember,
though, to read the label and look for those materials identified as
safe for children's use. Also, keep in mind that you can clean water-based
products with water instead of other solvents.
It may be safer to buy supplies in premixed paste or liquid formulations
instead of powder forms. This reduces exposure to dusts. Try to avoid
using aerosol sprays because of the fine mists that anyone in your hose
Be sure to check the product label and the MSDS for specific information.
If in doubt, contact the manufacturer, a toxicologist, or a poison control
center for more information.
Equip craft and work areas properly; keep areas clean--Work surfaces
should be hard and smooth for easy and thorough cleaning. Post emergency
phone numbers by the telephone.
Ventilate--For everyone's safety, ventilate the craft area. Consider
using a fan to blow air out one window while fresh air is coming in
another window; this is called cross ventilation. A fan simply moving
air around a room, however, is not an effective method of ventilation
because it allows vapors to disperse throughout your home. You may need
to install an exhaust system.
Store materials safely--Keep containers tightly closed when not in use.
Keep products in their original containers so you or staff members can
read the label or directions. Never store materials in food containers.
Protect against exposure--Avoid skin contact by wearing protective
clothing such as gloves, long sleeves and pants, aprons, or other covers.
Do not allow food or drinks in the art area because of the risk of contamination.
Wash hands carefully after doing arts and crafts.
Be caseful using art materials that contain toxic solvents, glues,
metals, acids, or alkalis.
For more information
The Art Hazards Information Center, a project of the Center for Occupational
Hazards, will answer written and telephone inquiries about arts and
crafts materials hazards and precautions. The information center has
several publications including age-appropriate listings. For a publication
list, enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope, and write to:
Art Hazards Information Center
5 Beekman St., Suite 1030
New York, NY 10038