Use arts and crafts materials safely

Just because you can buy arts and crafts materials in stores doesn't mean they are free from health and safety hazards. Some of these materials can be dangerous if you do not follow all of the safety instructions on the product label.

Important!

If you suffer headaches, dizzy spells, severe mood swings or feel ill when doing arts and crafts, leave the project for a while and get fresh air to see if you feel better. These symptoms could be warning signs that you need to take more steps to protect your health. If symptoms continue or return, get medical advice.

Health risks

The most common health hazards from working with arts and crafts materials are cuts from knives or scissors. But some materials can also burn or irritate your skin and eyes, cause toxic dust or fumes, or be poisonous if swallowed or inhaled.

These dangers are even greater for young children, who are smaller, naturally curious and have a habit of putting things in their mouths. It is important to keep materials not intended for children out of their sight and reach. For young artists, buy only materials that are specifically designed to be used by children, and supervise their use.

Safety tips for children

  • Supervise. Supervise children when using arts and crafts materials.
  • Buy kid-friendly products. Choose products labeled for children's use.
  • Keep materials in their original containers. This way, you can refer to label instructions and emergency advice later.
  • Follow safety instructions. Always follow the safety instructions on the label.
  • Store carefully. Store all materials out of the sight and reach of children.
  • Don't serve food or drinks. Don't let children eat or drink when using arts and crafts materials.
  • Ventilate. Do arts and crafts in a well-ventilated area.

Never let children use these materials:

  • paint that is not labelled as "for use by children," powdered clay and paint, ceramic glaze, copper enamel, and solder for stained glass (may contain lead or cadmium)
  • shellac, paint strippers, and craft dyes (may contain solvents with toluene or methyl alcohol, which may cause blindness or other serious health effects if swallowed)

Check the label for the ingredients of the product before you buy.

Safety tips for adults

  • Learn proper techniques. Learn all you can about the materials and techniques you are using. Take classes or ask an experienced professional.
  • Look for safer alternatives. Do not try or buy new arts or crafts materials until you have looked into the potential hazards.
  • Keep materials in their original containers. This way, you can refer to label instructions and emergency advice later.
  • Follow safety instructions. Read and follow the safety instructions on the label of your arts and crafts materials every time you use them.
  • Do arts and crafts in a well-ventilated area. Work outside, open a window or use a fan to draw fumes away from you.
  • Install a smoke detector in your work area. Keep a fire extinguisher close by.
  • Know emergency numbers. Keep the phone number of your nearest Poison Control Centre handy so you can call right away for advice if there is an emergency.
  • Use protective equipment For example:
    • goggles to protect your eyes from splashes or splinters
    • ear plugs to protect against loud noises
    • rubberized gloves to avoid getting solvents or acids on your skin
    • dust masks or respirators to prevent breathing in dust and fumes
  • Don't wear contact lenses when you work. They can trap dust or splashed liquids, which could damage your eyes.
  • Don't eat or drink. Keep arts and crafts materials away from food and drink.
  • Wash up. Wash your hands (and clothing, if needed) after you finish working.
  • Store carefully. Store hazardous materials out of the sight and reach of children and pets.
  • Throw out carefully. Contact your municipal waste facility for information on safe disposal of any hazardous waste materials.

Are you pregnant?

Pregnant women should not work with solvents, lead compounds or dust-producing materials. If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, talk to your doctor about the risks of toxic arts materials.

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