Health and Safety in the Art Room

The visual art mediums can trigger many health problems that you don't even suppose they can result in. Artists often underestimate hazards that painting, drawing, crafting and other arts can cause. And what's worse they easily neglect precautions although many paints and solvents have warnings and safety instructions on their packages. Read our buying guide on health and safety in the art room and you will learn about risks and hazards associated with art supplies and how to protect yourself choosing the right art clothing and equipment.

First, let's talk about the most common health and safety risks concerning painting and drawing materials.

Why use artists’ protective clothing and equipment

Knowing this you will probably select art supplies and handle them more thoroughly.

So, there are several types of risks you can face while working with artists' supplies. Some refer to mechanical damages like those from machines, electrical devices, chemicals, and compressed air. They are usually described in the product manuals and instructions so we won't dwell on them. Other risks seem to be not so obvious they deal with paints and paint components. These are the subject of this buying guide. Well, let's get them straight.

Health and safety in art and design

Here are some tips that can help you ensure health and safety in the classroom or any other art room while handling paints and solvents:

  • Many painting and drawing materials contain pigments and solvents that can be detrimental to our health. That's why it is important to observe all safety instructions while using them and follow specific storage rules. Always read such user guides carefully to avoid health risks.

  • It is strongly recommended to keep paints and adhesives in special containers. Food or beverage containers do not fit for this purpose. When not in use cover containers tightly.

Handling dry painting and drawing materials

Dry pigments are worth careful treating as it is probable to accidentally inhale and ingest their dust. For the same reason, people with respiratory diseases should use charcoals, dry pastels, and chalks with caution. Some dry drawing media like pastel sticks and pencils are often created with the use of a resin containing toxic pigments.

Among colorants, there are pigments containing toxic substances like lead, cobalt, cadmium, or manganese. These may cause a whole bunch of respiratory diseases, gastrointestinal problems, damage circulatory, and nervous systems, arouse skin reactions.

It is a bad practice to drink, eat, or smoke while working. Besides, try to avoid mixing dry pigments and do not forget to wipe out surfaces with a wet mop.

Working safely with water-based paints

As for water-based paints, acrylics and some gouaches may cause allergy, eye and mucous membrane irritation. To prevent these reactions, you can open a window or use a window exhaust fan. The same applies to solvent-based drawing inks and permanent markers. While handling ammonia-containing paints it's better to put on protective gloves, goggles, and apron.

Dealing with non-water-based paints

Using solvents and paint thinners for non-water-based paints without proper protection can reflect badly on skin and cause such diseases like skin defatting, dermatitis, and allergies. If inhaled they may cause respiratory irritation as well as headaches, dizziness, nausea, loss of coordination, narcosis, and even coma.

That's why art studio ventilation is very important by working with non-water based paints. If you use turpentine or mineral spirits for cleaning brushes, protect your hands with neoprene gloves and wash hands with soap and water after working.

Spray paint safety for artists

Spraying paints, varnishes, and adhesives are another type of art supplies requiring special treatment. The main issue with them is in the mist created with airbrushes, spray guns, and aerosol spray cans. You can inhale it easily if special measures are not taken. For that reason, respiratory protection and proper art studio ventilation are a must-have for this kind of paint job.

How to ensure health and safety in the art room  

Among safety means for artists it is possible to distinguish:

  • Personal protective equipment. This includes different artists’ protective clothing and gears like art aprons, masks, respirators, gloves, glasses, and goggles.

  • Engineering and administrative controls. These involve isolation and enclosure of a working area, ventilation, and special cleaning and purification devices, such as fume hoods, spray booths, and air purifiers.

Air purifiers for health and safety in art studio

As you may notice the majority of health problems appears due to breathing in hazardous dust, mist, and toxic fumes. But it's not uncommon that artists and crafters work in quite closed art studios for a whole day. In that case, opened windows cannot fully cope with the task. Moreover, cold and bad weather may tempt artists to keep windows closed.

This is where air purifiers may come to the rescue. They're portable and offer efficient air purification even for heavily polluted spaces. These units are designed to keep the concentration of volatile organic chemicals and other air pollutants to a minimum and reduce odors. Air purifiers operate quietly and do not disturb you during a creation process. The use of an air purifier will help you to get rid of headaches and you will surely feel the difference. On the top of that, there are different models to choose from. So you will definitely find the right air purifier ensuring art safety in the classroom or in your art studio.


We hope this buying guide will help you to ensure safety and health in the art room and improve your painting and drawing experience.

Good luck with your creative activities and enjoy safe and healthy painting!

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