I bet you’ve never thought of art as a dangerous career. Well, it’s not like Alaskan king crab fishing or ice road trucking, but there are certain risks that it pays to be aware of. I read an article in this month’s issue of ARTnews called “A False Sense of Security,” about safety hazards that artists face. In the article Suzanne Muchnic says, “…rising concern about risky aspects of art making has brought safer products to studios, workshops, and classrooms in an effort to prevent illness and injury.” Even still, how much safer are these products? I took some pictures of the labels on some of the materials that I use on a regular basis.
According to the ARTnews article, artists have experienced a wide range of health disorders including Heart Attack, Cancer, Emphysema, Lead Poisoning, and diseases of the eyes, liver, nervous system, and kidneys from exposure to hazardous materials.
Being an artist doesn’t have to be a dangerous occupation. If you do your research, and take precautions, you will have done what you can to make your working environment a safe one. Here are a few simple practices to follow when dealing with possibly hazardous materials:
- When warned, make sure materials are being used in a well ventilated area and/or wear an appropriate mask
- Wear gloves when painting and cleaning brushes/tools if using pigments with hazardous chemicals
- Don’t eat, drink, or smoke while painting or using hazardous materials (and if you smoke, quit it! You’re inhaling toxic chemicals.)
Honestly, I have yet to implement a lot of these safety precautions! I get lazy and try to take shortcuts, but I’m making a resolution to be more aware of possible safety hazards, and to be smart about preventing possible health problems.