While it’s always a good idea to be safe about the products we use as consumers, it’s even more important when kids are involved. And in schools, this is not an option…. non-toxic is the only way to go! To ensure the quality and safety of the art materials your students use, be sure the product label contains this statement: “Conforms To ASTM D-4236”.
In addition to that, here are a few (mostly common sense) safety guidelines you can share with your students, excerpted from “What You Need to Know About the Safety of Art & Craft Materials” by The Art & Creative Materials Institute (ACMI):
• Do not eat or drink while using art materials.
• Always wash your hands well when you finish.
• Never put your brush, pen, etc. in your mouth! While this may sound like a “No, duh” type of rule, I actually used to do this to re-point my brush (after cleaning it, of course!)…. it drove my husband crazy!!
• Never paint or draw on skin (or clothes!) unless the product’s label indicates that it’s meant to be used in this way.
• Keep art materials in their original containers so you won’t lose any safety information that’s on the package.
• Do not use products that have passed their expiration date.
• Take extra care when using a product in powdered form, such as powdered tempera.
Fortunately, many wonderful art materials are available that meet the safety standard for use by children, but it’s worth checking what you use to be sure. I was once questioned about using my beloved Sharpies with Kindergarteners and feared I might have to replace them with something water-based (and much less effective). When I checked, I was relieved to find the AP safety seal right there on the barrel. So, it’s best to be proactive and know that your materials are safe before you get asked and find yourself unprepared to answer!