My awareness & concern for non-toxic art materials has been rekindled… I’ve often noticed the AP labels on my paints and art supplies, but not really bothered to find out what they mean. So here’s a quick 101 on deciphering the safety of your artist materials…
So what makes art supplies safe?
Just like any product, knowledge of the potential hazards and proper handling can make your art supplies safe. Generally art products that are safe to use are those that are not toxic and do not cause any immediate (such as skin irritation) or long term reactions (such as cancer) to your health. In 1998, the US “Labeling of Hazardous Art Materials Act” set in place a standard where artist materials need to be labeled appropriately, and to have a special note if it is inappropriate for children to use them (as the little munchkins will likely stick them up their nose & in their ears.) Art materials must clearly have their hazardous ingredients specified on the label, and have instructions for how to use them safely, identify that it complies with Federal Law, and provide information on how to contact the manufacturer for more information. (Some of the above information was found in The Green Guide, who have some great tips on handling art supplies safely)
The Art & Creative Materials Institute, Inc. (ACMI) are responsible for the nifty little labels you see on all sorts of artist materials. Their team of toxicologists make sure that every ingredient in every product is safe, with no regard to objections related to cost (that’s what I like to hear!)
How can I find out if my art materials are safe?
An easy way of doing this is to look for the ACMI seal on your art supplies… and if you want to find out more details, check out their searchable online directory of Certified Products, where you can find out the facts on everything from paints to glue listed there in all your favourite brands. The main seals you’ll see on artist products are :
AP Seal : Artist materials with the AP seal are non-toxic and are deemed safe even if misused (such as ingestion) by a small child… that doesn’t mean eating ‘em won’t make you sick, so don’t eat your paint! And don’t let your kids eat paint either. “The new AP (Approved Product) Seal, with or without Performance Certification, identifies art materials that are safe and that are certified in a toxicological evaluation by a medical expert to contain no materials in sufficient quantities to be toxic or injurious to humans, including children, or to cause acute or chronic health problems.” – Art & Creative Materials Institute (ACMI)
CL Seal : “The CL Seal identifies products that are certified to be properly labeled in a program of toxicological evaluation by a medical expert for any known health risks and with information on the safe and proper use of these materials. This seal is currently replacing the HL Health Label (Cautions Required) Seal over a 5-year phase-in period. These two Seals appear on only 15% of the adult art materials in ACMI’s certification program and on none of the children’s materials. These products are also certified by ACMI to be labeled in accordance with the chronic hazard labeling standard…” – Art & Creative Materials Institute (ACMI)
So there you go… it’s not as difficult as you’d think to make sure your art supplies are safe to use! If you liked this post, you might like to read this post with some Tips on How to Handle your Art Supplies Safely.