Precautions to Take When Selecting Art Materials

Keep art time safe by knowing which materials are appropriate for children. Here, the learning professionals at Celebree Learning Centers discuss what precautions to take when selecting art materials.

Keep an Eye Out: Solvents, Fragrances, and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Not all art supplies are created equally: Many markers, paints, glues and other art materials contain substances that can be harmful to young children. In a 2016 study performed by members of EHCC’s National Advisory Committee, researchers suggested that permanent and dry erase markers emit 400 times more VOCs than highlighters and washable markers. While limiting the use of these materials or using them in well-ventilated areas can mitigate the effects of VOCs, this is only one example of the health risks posed by certain art materials. Products such as instant paper mache, rubber cement, aerosol spray cans and paints can contain toxic solvents and fragrances which may trigger asthma attacks, allergies, headaches and skin irritation.

The Art and Creative Materials Institute (ACMI) has a certification program which labels art materials as either non-toxic AP (approved products) or toxic CL (caution label). A product that is only labelled non-toxic can be misleading: if products do not also have the AP label, then they may cause harm with long-term use. Always look for certified non-toxic AP products to use in art projects and activities: a list of these materials can be found at www.acminet.org.

Other Ways to Stay Safe

To keep your children safe from harmful chemicals or injury during art activities, consider these suggestions:

  1. Keep the workspace well-ventilated to ensure proper air flow. Open screened windows, or use fans and open doors. If possible, take your art projects outside.
  2. Have children wear protective clothing, such as smocks and gloves. Make sure they wash their hands thoroughly before and after using art supplies.
  3. Do not allow children to bring food and drink around the workspace, to mitigate potential contamination of both the food and drink, as well as art supplies.
  4. Take only as much material as needed for the project. Liquid materials, such as paint and glue, should be placed in separate containers, instead of being used straight from their original container. Once the project is completed, dispose of any leftover materials: do not put them back into the original container, as this may introduce bacteria, mold, or other contaminants to the supply.
  5. Do not leave children unsupervised when handling sharp objects, or consider having an adult use them instead. While it is advisable to also provide safety scissors for younger children, it is important that you closely supervise the use of scissors at all times.
  6. Keep paints in a cool, dry place, and shake well before use. Mark the date of purchase on all paints, use the oldest ones first, and throw away expired product.
  7. Never use art materials to prepare food, or paint on skin, unless they are specifically made for that purpose. If children get art materials on their skin or in their eyes, wash the skin and rinse the eyes thoroughly with cool water, as well as soap, if applicable.

To ensure that your children stay safe during arts and crafts time, it is important to understand the risks that certain materials and activities pose. At Celebree Learning Centers, our priority is maintaining a safe but fun learning environment for children of all ages. As such, our experienced educators and center staff ensure that art materials are within safety guidelines and maintained properly for safe use by Celebree children.  For additional information or to schedule a tour of your local Celebree Learning Center, visit us at www.celebree.com.