Buying Safer Art Supplies

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Buying Safer Art Supplies

Should I be concerned about buying safer art supplies for young children?
Some common arts and crafts products can contain hazardous materials (lead, solvents, ammonia).
Children are especially vulnerable to chemical exposure, because they are developing rapidly.

Want to buy safer art supplies? Read the label.
The simplest way to find safer art supplies is to look on the packaging for certain phrases and logos.

Look for these symbols or statements on art supplies

What they mean

OK to buy for children through grade six ?

These materials have been tested by the Art and Creative Materials Institute (ACMI) and were determined to be non-toxic to young children.


These materials have been tested by the Information Toxicology International Incorporated and were determined to be non-toxic to young children. 


“Conforms to ASTM D-4236”

The product is meant to be used as an art supply.  The label must list ingredients if hazardous. 
This phrase is required by U.S. law.



Children in grade six and below should not use this art product because it contains hazardous materials. 
(Children in grades seven and up may use the product with adult supervision. Follow the directions on the label.)


Examples of art supplies


OK to use Avoid Why to avoid?
Glues White library paste Rubber cement Flammable, toxic
Glue stick Model glues Flammable, toxic
Adhesive tape Spray adhesives Flammable, toxic
Rice paste Super glue Toxic
  Contact cement Toxic
  Epoxy Toxic
Paint Water-based paints, solid or liquid:  tempera, poster paints and paint pans, with AP Safe for Kids seal. Acrylic paints Acrylic paints may have the AP seal, but because they may contain ammonia and formaldehyde, we do not recommend their use by young children.
Powdered paints Powdered paints could cause a breathing hazard if you mix them around children.
Oil based paints
Paint thinners
Spray paints
Toxic solvents
Drawing materials Crayons Permanent markers Toxic solvents
Colored pencils Dry-erase markers Toxic solvents
  Scented markers

A concern is that these makers "teach" children to smell other, potentially harmful types of markers.
Modeling Clays Flour based clays (Play-Doh, homemade) Polymer clays (e.g. Fimo.) Made of vinyl or PVC which can release toxic gases into the air.
Earth-based clays (Crayola Air-Dry Clay)
Oil-based clays (Plasticine)
Ceramics, Pottery Glazes with AP seal Glazes that contain lead, cobalt, cadmium, chromium Lead is known to affect IQ. All are reproductive hazards.
Glazes for professional artists CL label (see chart above) and health caution label
Pre-mixed clay Dry clay that needs mixing Toxic silica dust
Aprons Made from cotton, nylon or polyester Made from or coated with vinyl or PVC Vinyl or PVC can release toxic gases into the air.


For more details
Visit Arts & Crafts Supplies at Toxic-Free Future.