Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Health hazards for artists

graphite 9 x 12
copyright Jeanette Jobson

Many occupations have some health risks attached to them, whether mental or physical and they often come through a variety of external factors which can be controlled to some extent by the individual. As I get older and the usual range of aches and pains set in from mild arthritis in my hands to increased sensitivity to fumes or substances to decreased eyesight, I wonder about my ability to continue making marks on paper into the future.

Illnesses can be caused by:
  • art materials,
  • the contents of art supplies and their effects on the body,
  • improper handling of art materials,
  • selection and use of equipment to prevent illness and injury,
  • the design of studios, classrooms, and other work environments to minimize dangers to artists
There are a number of organizations and groups specifically designed to provide information about safety in the arts.
  1. Monona Rossol is a chemist, artist, and industrial hygienist is President/founder of Arts, Crafts and Theater Safety, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to providing health and safety services to the arts. ACTS publishes data sheets (from 1 to 10 pages) on over 60 different technical subjects related to health and safety in art and theater which are available free of charge or for a nominal fee.
  2. Art and Creative Materials Institute is an international organization that was organized to assist its members in providing the public with art and creative materials for children and artists that are non-toxic. All products in the program undergo extensive toxicological evaluation and testing before they are granted the right to bear the ACMI certification seal. The institute provides information on hazardous products.
  3. The Artists Complete Health & Safety Guide - this provides information on an incredible variety of art materials and processes.
  4. The Arts Resource Centre outlines health, safety and insurance for artists.
  5. The Crafts Report looks at studio ergonomics.
The list of hazards, erogonomics and impacts on health is extensive and can take up a lot of research time. I think that my preference of graphite tends to be one of the least offensive to my body with the exception of fixative spray used at the end of a drawing. So as long as my eyesight and hands hang in there, I should be fairly safe.


Billie Crain said...

i think about this too, Jeanette...aging and what impact it will have on my art. then i think of Grandma Moses! our style may have to change but our need to create never dies. we'll just have to learn to adjust.

the article about handling potentially dangerous art materials is a huge concern for me as it should be for every artist. we tend to forget these things in throes of creativity. thank you for posting the info/links.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Nice one Jeanette - this one's going on my weekly round-up.

Hope you're over your cold and enjoying your new computer.

Robin Neudorfer said...

Yes I agree with Billie and Katherine, we must make every effort to consider our health when choosing materials.

Thanks for all of the links Jeanette, I will look over them as time permits.

I have to admit, I have not been as careful as I should be, but that mostly pertains to the remodel work around the house. I never know what I am working with half of the time. Thank goodness it is almost over with.

Robin Neudorfer said...

By the way....I love the little bird. He has such presence on the paper, and great form. You are doing these in one day?

Sorry to hear about the loss of the ducks. I do think of you often though as we have a new orphan kitty, that our Siamese brought home. They are the best of friends.
(now that I think of it I might have already mentioned that... but my brain is working over time these days, and this sort of thing gets filed incorrectly at times.)