Art on the Plateau: Is creating art making you sick?

Making art has health risks and hidden hazards but help is on the way

According to the National Institute of Health, artists face many health hazards. A 1997 NIH report about such hazards paints a scary picture.

“Although visual arts-such as painting, sculpting, printmaking, and metal work-are often thought of as benign pursuits, artists and craftspeople work with a wide range of potentially harmful materials. Each art discipline has its own battery of hazardous substances,” the report states. “Painters often use aromatic hydrocarbons such as toluene and styrene, esters such as butyl acetate, ketones such as isophorone, and glycols such as butyl cellosolve and methyl cellosolve acetate. Sculptors are exposed to metal fumes and dusts, sand and rock dusts, and, if they use organic materials, biological dusts such as molds, anthrax spores, and wood dusts. Other hazards are found in printmaking, ceramics, glassblowing, fiber arts, and photography. Artists may be at particularly high risk…(read more).”

So, it may be that the ramifications of neglecting protections, or not taking precautions, are immense.

That may be why 4Culture and the King County Local Hazardous Waste Management are teaming up to offer to all artists the free HIDDEN HAZARDS IN THE ARTS: Workshop Series at 4Culture starting January 10th in 2013.

All workshops will include information on how artists can avoid exposure to hazardous chemicals during the creative process and in their lives. Topics include:

1.  A brief overview of toxicology and how it applies to artists

2.  Warnings about toxic dusts, vapors and fumes and guidelines to control them

3. Proper personal protection and effective ventilation systems

4. Proper and inexpensive disposal of waste products

Each workshop will focus on the chemical hazards present in specific disciplines; how artists can both protect themselves from toxic exposures and protect the environment through proper disposal of art wastes.  The workshop schedule is:

  • Chemical hazards in jewelry, metalsmithing, and printmaking - Thursday, January 10, 12:00-2:00 pm
  • Chemical hazards in painting, encaustic, pastels and adhesives - Thursday, March 14, 6:00-8:00 pm
  • Chemical hazards in studio glass - Thursday, May 9, 12:00-2:00 pm 

All workshops take place at 4Culture's offices at 101 Prefontaine Place South, Seattle, WA 98104

To attend a workshop, ask a question, or share a story, call 206-263-3069 or email dave.waddell@kingcounty.gov

4Culture is a unique integration of the arts, heritage, preservation and public art; committed to advancing community through culture. Public exhibitions and performances, public art, preservation of significant sites and interpretation of local history deepen our connections to the places in which we live and work. 4Culture stimulates cultural activity and enhances the assets that distinguish a community as vibrant, unique and authentic.



This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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