Nothing says childhood (or toddlerhood!) like getting messy with paint. Exposing your child to a variety of art materials and supplies not only helps foster their love of the arts and creativity, it helps them express themselves and make sense of the world around them.
That said, making sure your art materials are non-toxic is critical. Little, paint-covered fingers can oftentimes find their way into unsuspecting mouths and we all know the kid in kindergarten who taste-tested the glue.
Here are the US Consumer Product Safety Commissions Guidelines for Selecting Art and Craft Materials for Children, up to 12 years of ages.
- Note that even products labeled non-toxic when used in an unintended manner can have harmful effects.
- Products with cautionary/warning labels should not be used with children pre-kindergarten through grade 6 (see Section II for information about specific materials).
- Avoid solvents and solvent-based supplies, which include turpentine, paint thinner, shellac, toluene, and some glues, inks, and a few solvent-containing permanent markers.
- Avoid materials in self-pressurized containers.
- Avoid acids, alkalis, bleaches, or corrosives.
- Avoid products or processes that produce airborne dusts Avoid old supplies, unlabeled supplies, and be wary of donated supplies with cautionary/warning labels and that do not contain the statement Conforms to ASTM D- 4236.
- Avoid materials with lead, cadmium and other heavy metals.
- Avoid high-temperature hot glue guns; use low- temperature models.
- Look for products that are clearly labeled with information about intended uses.
- Give special attention to students with higher exposure risks, such as: Physical or mental challenges, which affect safe use of the supplies, visual or hearing difficulties that may hinder the recognition of spills or skin exposures and may require the student to get close to supplies during use which can increase their inhalation of fumes or dusts; Asthma or allergies, which may elevate the students sensitivities to fumes, dusts, or products that come into contact with the skin.
The good news? Several ASTRA members provide fantastic eco-friendly, non-toxic art options for kids! Visit your local neighborhood toy store for expert advice and peruse their options.