Art Material Safety: Inhalation, Ingestion and Absorption

illustration showing inside of body


If you have ever wondered about the safety of some of the materials that you are using in your art practice? Let's open up the topic so you can be better informed. Here are three ways to raise your awareness about safety in the art studio. There are three ways you can be exposed to toxins and irritants in art material:


1. Inhalation - inhaling fumes or particles through the mouth or nose into the lungs

2. Absorption - by touching the materials and absorbing through the skin

3. Ingestion - yep - eating the materials. 


Inhalation - some artists minimize exposure in this fashion by wearing a respiration mask. Make sure that you purchase the right cartridge for your use. If you the respiration mask to avoid inhaling particles/dust then you will need a different cartridge than the one used for fumes. Remember that spraying paint such as spray paint or airbrushing can also cause particles to become airborn - use caution. Some artists will install a ventillation system, or build  a ventilation hood with spray booth.


Ingestion - wash your hands - especially before you eat to help you avoid things like getting paint on your sandwich. Another cautionary tale is an artist I met who stored her mineral spirits in a water bottle. You can see where this is going right? She opened it and took a swig. Though she lived to tell the tale, this is not something you want to do!!! 


Absorption - again, washing your hands can help to dimish the affect of absorbing toxins from the art materials through the skin. If you want to protect yourself from absorption through the skin on your hands you can wear latex gloves ( or similar - some people are allergic) or barrier cream. The barrier cream is rubbed onto the hand and dries to form an invisible barrier while you work. 


Image source [1]

Written by: rebecca chaperon
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