For many, it’s the time of year to start making that back-to-school shopping list. New shoes, check. New Trapper Keeper, check. New eco-friendly art supplies … what? That’s right. Aside from the obvious green school supply choice of recycled paper, you can make a difference by doing a little extra legwork in search of non-toxic art supplies.
I read in Treehugger last week that a study by the Union of Concerned Scientists found heavy metals such as lead, cobalt and cadmium in some brands of art supplies. Volatile organic compounds (harmful chemicals that are inhaled through vapors from such supplies as paint, paint thinner and markers or other inks) are also a concern.
So be sure to check the labels — the federal government is required to include a warning on supplies that contain hazardous materials, and the Art and Creative Materials Institute has prepared the Approved Product (AP) label along with the Cautionary Label (CL) label for added guidance. Click here for a list of their approved products.
You can always request a materials safety data sheet on a product that doesn’t disclose its ingredients. Simply contact the manufacturer, or consult the art supply MSDS database.