Art Supplies & Toxins

When a parent or child care provider purchases art and craft supplies for their children's use, they assume these products are safe.  But that is not always the case. Many products labeled as 'non-toxic' are misleading because they refer to the immediacy of the poisoning if ingested, inhaled, or absorbed by the skin, but do not reflect any danger in long term use of the product.

The Canadian Child Day Care Federation, in their Resource Sheet #21, Safety in the Arts, recommends parents and providers use, "materials that bear the CP Certified Product Seal and/or the AP Approved Product Seal of the (American) Art and Craft Materials Institute." They also suggest that parents and providers contact manufacturers to find out what substances are use in its products
if these are not clearly marked on its packaging.

What To Avoid

Following are a few items listed on the CCDCF resource sheet which should be avoided, and which products to use in their place:

1. Avoid - powder clay which is easily inhaled and may contain toxic substances like silica or asbestos. Do not sand this product around children. Use talc-free, premixed clay, making sure to wet mop surfaces after use.

2. Avoid - instant paper mache, which may again contain toxic substances which are easily inhaled.  Use paper mache made from black and white newspaper and library or white paste.

3. Avoid - powdered tempera paints which may contain toxic pigments dangerous when inhaled.  Use liquid tempera paints or paints that are premixed by an adult.

4. Avoid - Permanent felt tipped markers which may contain toxic solvents. Use water-based markers only.

5. Avoid - instant glue model glue or other solvent based adhesives like epoxy. Use water-based white glue or library paste.
Parent providers alike should have the number for the poison control center clearly marked by their telephone and should keep the product labeled of any poisonous substances close by for quick referral in an emergency.