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Here’s a New Year’s resolution that can lead to a healthier and safer year for you and others in your studio. Resolve to take a little time this to review how you manage hazardous materials in your studio. This resolution could save your life!


Download or order this FREE Studio Safety Poster!

Fumes + Ventilation

Many art supplies give off fumes. While some are toxic, others can produce allergic sensitivity to people with exposure over time. Check to see: 

    • Do you smell any fumes like gas, smoke or vapor in the hallway, stairwell or studio that may be toxic?
    • Do others in the building and adjoining spaces use hazardous materials?
    • Does the building have good ventilation?
    • Are there rules in your building against allowing fumes permeate into the hallways?

Material Safety Data SheetsPlanning + Knowledge

Your Safety Data Sheet (SDS) will tell you if the materials you are using can be mixed and also the appropriate storage temperatures for them. If smoke/CO detectors are not hardwired, make sure to set up a maintenance system for checking and replacing batteries.

    • Make a chemical hygiene plan. Understand the risks involved with the chemicals you use, including how they affect skin, eye, and your respiratory system, etc.
      • Do you have a copy of the SDS for every chemical you use in the studio?
      • Keep all of your Safety Data Sheets  in a binder for easy reference and update them frequently and when you add new materials to your artistic process.
    • Research less toxic options for your art making. What are other ways to minimize use of hazardous materials

Personal Safety Checklist

  • If you transfer material from its original container, make sure the new container is safe to use. Some chemicals cause glass to explode or metal to corrode, for example.
  • If necessary wear a NIOSH-approved respirator and/or make sure that you cover your skin. Some chemicals can be absorbed into your skin through the air, for example.
  • Make sure you have adequate ventilation so fumes disperse outdoors safely. You might need an explosion-proof fan.
  • Don’t cross-contaminate areas of your studio with hazardous materials, particularly, where you eat.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after using hazardous materials.
  • However you mix and apply chemicals, make sure that you cure them safely.


  • Are you storing materials in their original containers or ones that are compatible, properly labeled and sealed?
  • Check your containers routinely to make sure the materials are still usable.
  • Store materials in appropriate cabinets. You might need multiple storage options as some materials/chemicals should not be stored together.
  • Secure all containers to prevent their tipping or falling over.
  • Never store toxic material above shoulder height.
  • If you use compressed gas in the studio, store cylinders at least 20 feet away from combustible material or oxygen.


  • Do you know the disposal method for all chemicals you use? Many chemicals can combust if improperly disposed. For example, piles of rags soaked with oil-based solvents can flame up hours later.
  • Do you have a plan for disposing of all hazardous materials? Many municipalities have designated areas and times for hazmat disposal – just be careful during transport.

For more resources on how to best manage your art materials, visit:

CERF+ provides additional studio safety and readiness information for artists:

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