What better way for children to bring out their imagination and allow their
creativity to surface than by creating art. Art of any type or medium allows
kids to express their emotions, to learn and develop appreciation for art.
Itıs wonderful when their school provides art projects for them or when they
are encouraged at home to express their creative side.
As adults we need to make sure that we provide for children a safe
environment to do art. Many adults are unaware that certain arts and crafts
materials can be dangerous to childrenıs health.
Long exposure to some type of paints, solvents, glue, and other craft
materials can hurt our childrenıs health because they may contain substances
that have been shown to cause tissue and organ damage, affect their mental
state, make their allergies worse or cause other more serious side effects.
Some crayons, paints and inks may contain lead. Rubber cement, aerosol spray
paints and fixatives, as permanent markers may contain solvents. Some arts
and crafts materials may even contain other chemicals that children should
Since childrenıs bodies have not fully developed, they are more (than
adults) susceptible to toxics. Most art materials are designed and tested
for adults, so these materials have a more concentrated effect on children.
Children with a curious nature may tend to use these art materials
inappropriately by putting some materials in their mouth, inhale fumes from
paint or spill them, increasing their exposure to these chemicals.
To help your children have a safe art experience, here are some things you
1. Keep a telephone handy with the telephone number to your local Poison
Control Center so you can call immediately in case a child swallows a
product by accident. Keep the product close by for label information.
2. Examine the labels of all the materials you will use. Art materials
that pose a chronic health hazard must have a warning label by law with a
statement saying that it is inappropriate for children. Do not use these
Only use non-toxic products that have the statement: ³Conforms to ASTM
D-4236² which is required by the Labeling of Hazardous Art Materials Act and
are specifically designed for children.
3. Do not use old materials or materials that do not have a label on
them. There used to be less strict laws before and you donıt know what they
4. Do not use any type of solvents with children.
5. Avoid paint powder mixes, which can get in the eyes or can be inhaled.
Adults can prepare these ahead of time if you need to use them.
6. Adults should do any part that may require aerosol spray cans, air
brushes, etc. outdoors.
7. If a child has an open cut or sore, make sure itıs well protected or
change the art activity to something that may not irritate the cut or sore.
8. At all ages make sure children are supervised by an adult when doing
9. Do work in a ventilated area. If you canıt work outside, make sure
windows are open and use a fan if available.
10. Always instruct children on the proper use of the art materials they
will be using before they being their art project.
11. While working on a project, take time to put the lids back on paints,
glues, solvents and other materials that came with a lid.
12. Do not eat, drink or snack while doing an art project.
13. Do not work near eating areas and do not use eating containers to mix
paints or to store art materials.
14. With children under 6 years old, distribute small amounts of
materials at a time. This will help them use the materials they have instead
of wanting to play with the rest of the art materials.
15. Observe the child while working with art materials and see if there
are any allergies or reactions to the materials, as some kids are sensitive
to certain products.
16. If using markers stick with washable markers. If using crayons avoid
the imported type as they may not have proper regulation standards.
17. When finished with the art project, clean the materials used
completely, as well as the area you worked on right away.
18. Mop the floor to get rid of chemicals better.
19. Children should wash their hands thoroughly when finished with their
20. Put away all materials that need supervision and carefully stored
them away from childrenıs reach when not in use.
Taking these safety precautions can make your childrenıs art experience not
only fun and rewarding but safe.
Gladys Jimenez is an artist, art docent and founder of Scribbles, where kids
can create art, learn about art, enter contests, win art supplies and color
on line. Visit Scribbles at http://www.scribbleskidsart.com or email: