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How to Handle Hazardous Art Materials


Identify your hazardous art materials and supplies

  • Poisonous, irritant and corrosive materials
  • Flammable and combustible materials
  • Review the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for the chemicals you use in order to better understand their proper use, storage and disposal
    • It is important to have a copy of the SDS for each hazardous chemical used in your studio and to understand the SDS information
    • SDS’s include a “Signal” word. “Danger” is used for the more severe hazards and “Warning” is used for the less severe hazards.
    • Manufacturers and distributors of hazardous chemicals are required to provide information about the hazards in a standard, 16 section format
      • Sections 1-8 of an SDS contain general information about the chemical, identification, hazards, composition, safe handling practices, and emergency control measures (e.g., fire fighting).
      • Sections 9-11 and section 16 contain other technical and scientific information, such as physical and chemical properties, stability and reactivity information, toxicological information, exposure control information.
      • Sections 12-15 contain information regarding chemical disposal, transport and other important, but non-mandatory considerations.
    • Have these OSHA SDS reference sheets available at your studio
    • Learn about Art & Creative Materials Institute’s (ACMI) seals found on many artist material labels.
      • “AP” stands for APPROVED PRODUCT and is usually accompanied by the word “Nontoxic”.
      • “CL” is an abbreviation for CAUTIONARY LABEL, and is used when risk and safety information is required on the label.

Minimize hazardous material use and mitigate exposure

  • Store flammable materials properly
  • Ventilate for health
  • Wear the right gear


  • Don’t leave dirty rags about. They can spontaneously combust!
  • Don’t use generic containers, because having the original label on the chemical container is essential for safety.