Use arts and crafts materials safely

Using arts and crafts materials can be fun, but some may pose health risks.  You should 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 burns or irritation to skin or eyes
  • Cause poisonings if toxic dust or fumes are inhaled
  • Cause poisonings if ingested

These dangers are even greater for young children, who are naturally curious and have a habit of putting things in their mouths. You should keep materials not intended for children out of their sight and reach.

Important

If you suffer headaches, dizzy spells, severe mood swings or feel ill when doing arts and crafts, leave the project for a while and 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.

General safety tips

  • Learn the right techniques. Learn all you can about the materials and techniques you’re using. Take classes, read information written by professionals, or ask a professional.
  • 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.
  • Follow safety instructions. 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 Control Centre handy. Call right away if you suspect a poisoning.
  • Use 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.

Are you pregnant?

There may be additional risks posed to pregnant women by certain arts and crafts materials.  If you're pregnant or planning to get pregnant, talk to your doctor about the risks of these products.

Additional tips to help keep children safe

Pay attention. Stay in the room and be attentive when children use arts and crafts materials.
Buy kid-friendly products. Choose products labeled for children's use.
Do not use slime recipes that contain Boric acid.

Keep children away from these materials:

  • paint that's not clearly labelled as safe for kids
  • powdered clays and paints
  • ceramic glazes
  • copper enamel
  • solder for stained glass
  • shellac
  • paint strippers
  • craft dyes
  • boric acid

Check the label for the ingredients of the product before you buy.

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