Organic pigments and dyes.
Roughly 2,000 organic pigments
and dyes are commercially available, and any may be used in art
materials and/or craft textile dyes.
Most are nanoparticle-sized, and
only a relative handful of them have
been studied for chronic toxicity.
Many should be assumed to be carcinogens based on their structure.
Some artists derive their dyes and
pigments from natural sources. The
toxicity of a colorant is related to its
structure, not its origins. Many toxic
and cancer-causing colorants are
natural in origin.
Exposure to pigments and dyes.
Industrial hygienists must learn
how artists work to determine when
exposure to pigments is significant.
For example, significant exposure
can occur during drawing with dusty
chalk-like pastels, when sanding,
burning or heating dry paint or when
spraying paints and dyes. Exposure
to ceramic glaze chemicals during
use is almost inevitable because the
glazes dry to a powder when applied
and dust usually is found throughout the glazing area. Glass pigment
exposure occurs when pieces are
ground and shaped by grinding dry
(creating a dust) or wet (creating
an airborne mist). Both glass and
ceramic glaze metals can become
airborne as an invisible fume when
heated, and without proper ventilation, the metal fumes settle on surfaces in the area.
Solvents and exposure. Exposure
to solvents by inhalation is unavoidable during use since they
evaporate into the air. Some also
absorb through the skin. Hundreds
of solvents are used as diluents, carriers, degreasers and cleaners. The
most common types are petroleum
distillates, ketones, aromatic hydrocarbons, alcohols, amines and
glycol ethers. Some exotic solvents
are used such as turpentine, pine oil
and citrus oil. It is important to note
that natural solvents are often more
toxic than synthetic ones. They are
Oils and waxes. Many art processes
employ oils and waxes, such as
in oil-based paints, wax resists in
ceramics and batik textile dyeing,
encaustic painting and lost-wax
casting. These oils and waxes release
toxic substances when heated or
burned, including aldehydes such as
acrolein, formaldehyde and a host of
Plastic resins. Common two-compo-nent plastic products used primarily
in sculpture or crafts include polyester resins, which contain styrene and
are cured with organic peroxides;
acrylates; epoxy resins often cured
with complex amines and diluted
with diglycidyl ethers; and two-component urethane products cured
with diisocyanates. These monomers,
curing agents and diluents are often
highly toxic. Sensitization reactions
like allergic dermatitis and asthma
are associated with amine curing
agents and isocyanates.
Preformed plastic sheets and
foam are also used and then machined and hot-wire cut into shapes.
Burning plastics release hundreds of
chemicals including the monomers
and additives such as phthalates and
chlorinated and brominated fire retardants. The popular vinyl polymer
hand-molded clays used to make
jewelry and small objects contain 3
to 25 percent free phthalates. Users
are exposed to phthalates by skin
contact during forming and by inhalation when (as the product literature directs) the clays are heated in
kitchen ovens, releasing phthalates
into the air.
Metals. Common metal products
used include lead solders for crafts
and stained glass, cadmium-fluxed
silver and gold solders, nickel/silver
casting alloys, beryllium/copper alloys still found in some sculpture
and jewelry alloys, and a host of
complex alloys used in bronze,
brass, white metals and more. Artists machining or welding junk metals may inadvertently be exposed
to toxic alloys and solders never
intended for art or craft processes.
Minerals. Ceramics, stone and lapidary carving and glasswork involve
exposure to minerals. Silica is present in most minerals and clays. Asbestos can contaminate an industrial
talc still used in ceramics, some other
steatites and soapstones used in
sculpture, and certain semiprecious
stones such as nephrite, a form of
jade. Lead is a common contaminant
in sculpture stones such as dolomite.
Uranium and other radioactive metals are present in some granites.
Industrial hygienists must know the
source of each mineral since their
composition varies significantly from
quarry to quarry.
photography is still done in many
art schools. It involves the use of
developers such as hydroquinone,
acetic acid to stop the reaction,
and chemical washes to clean and
harden the print. Most of the liquid
chemical baths also contain sulfite preservatives. Air quality tests
should monitor sulfur dioxide from
the preservatives, acetic acid and
formaldehyde from some hardeners.
Some types of photo resists and film
cleaners also contain solvents.
Other hazards. There are many
other chemicals and physical issues
such as guarding of equipment,
high heat, infrared radiation in