Use arts and crafts materials safely

Using arts and crafts materials can be fun, but some may pose health risks. Always follow all of the safety instructions on the product label.

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Health risks

Cuts are the most common injury from working with arts and crafts materials. Some materials can also cause:

  • poisonings, if swallowed
  • burns or irritation to skin or eyes
  • poisonings, if toxic dust or fumes are inhaled (breathed in)

These dangers are even greater for young children, who are naturally curious and put things in their mouths.

Leave the arts and crafts project for a while if you:

  • feel ill
  • have headaches, dizzy spells or severe mood swings

Get fresh air to see if you feel better. These symptoms could be warning signs that you need to take more steps to protect your health. If symptoms continue or return, get medical advice.

Risks if you are pregnant

Arts and crafts materials may pose additional risks if you’re pregnant. If you're pregnant or planning to get pregnant, talk to your health care provider about the risks of these products.

General safety tips

  • Learn the right techniques. Learn all you can about the materials and techniques you’re using. Take classes or get professional advice.
  • Look for safer alternatives. Look into the potential hazards before you try (or buy) new arts and crafts materials.
  • Keep materials in their original containers. You'll be able to read label instructions and emergency advice.
  • Always follow the safety instructions on the labels.
  • Do arts and crafts in an area where the air circulates well. Work outside, open a window or use a fan.
  • Install a smoke detector in your work area. Keep a fire extinguisher close by.
  • Know emergency numbers. Keep the phone number of your nearest poison centre handy. Call right away if you suspect a poisoning.
  • Use personal protective equipment. This includes:
    • goggles or prescription eyeglasses to protect your eyes from splashes or small objects
    • earplugs to protect against loud noises
    • rubberized gloves to avoid getting solvents or acids on your skin
    • dust masks or respirators to prevent breathing in dust or fumes
    • any other equipment recommended in product instructions
  • Remove your contact lenses when you work. They can trap dust or splashed liquids, which could damage your eyes. Use your prescription glasses instead.
  • Keep arts and crafts materials away from food and drink. You will reduce the risk of swallowing dangerous materials by mistake.
  • Wash up. Wash your hands (and clothing, if needed) after you finish working.
  • Store carefully. Keep hazardous materials out of the sight and reach of children and pets.
  • Dispose of materials carefully. Contact your municipal waste facility for information on safe disposal of any hazardous materials.

Tips to help keep children safe

  • Keep materials not meant for children out of their sight and reach.
  • Buy kid-friendly products. Choose products labeled for children's use.
  • Pay attention. Stay in the room and be attentive when children use arts and crafts materials.
  • Do not use slime recipes that contain boric acid.
  • Keep children away from:
    • shellac
    • boric acid
    • craft dyes
    • paint strippers
    • ceramic glazes
    • copper enamel
    • solder for stained glass
    • powdered clays and paints
    • paint that's not clearly labelled as safe for kids
  • Check the label for the ingredients of the product before you buy.

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