SOUTH TEXAS COLLEGE SAFETY RULES FOR ART
These primary rules are from the South Texas College Safety Plan and supercede all other rules.
Students in Studio classes should, practice the following GENERAL SAFETY RULES:
- LEARN the safe way to do your job before you start.
- THINK safety, and ACT safely at all times.
- OBEY safety rules and regulations - they are for your protection.
- WEAR proper clothing and protective equipment.
- CONDUCT yourself properly at all times - horseplay is prohibited.
- OPERATE only the equipment you are authorized to use.
- INSPECT tools and equipment for safe condition before starting work.
- ADVISE your instructor promptly of any unsafe conditions or practice.
- REPORT any injury immediately to your instructor.
- SUPPORT the safety plan and take an active part in safety.
Studio Art Classes
The following information is taken from a book published by the National Art Education Association, Secondary Art Education: An Anthology of Issues. The chapter is written by Sally Hagaman of Purdue University and highlights the Health Hazards in Art Education:
There are many potential health hazards in art classes. It is imperative that every art instructor becomes aware of potential health risks and means for minimizing them in the art classroom.
How Hazardous Materials Enter the Body:
There are three major routes by which hazardous or toxic materials enter the body:
- Inhalation of toxic fumes, dusts, vapors, spray mists, and smoke is hazardous. Some materials, such as sulfur dioxide gas given off by kilns or glacial acetic acid (photographic stop bath), can cause immediate damage to the lining of the airways and lungs. Other materials, like clay dusts, can cause chronic damage that builds slowly over a number of exposures. Generally, the finer the inhaled particle, the more damaging it is. Larger particles are trapped by the mucous membrane of the upper body, but very fine particles travel deep into the lungs. Some inhaled materials, such as turpentine vapors, go beyond the lungs and are carried throughout the body via the bloodstream.
- Skin contact with hazardous materials is a common route of entry to the body. Although the skin is designed to protect the body from injury, its protective ability is greatly or completely destroyed by contact with substances such as acids, bleaches, and organic solvents. Such substances "de-fat" the outer skin, leaving the skin layers underneath vulnerable to damage. Certain chemicals, such as turpentine, toluene, and methyl alcohol, actually go deeper, entering the bloodstream and thus traveling through the entire body.
- Ingestion of toxic materials may be direct or indirect through mouth contact with hands, pencils, food, or cigarettes that have been exposed to such materials. Adolescents, like younger children or adults for that matter, may be apt to chew on a fingernail or point a paintbrush with their lips, thus allowing ingestion of hazardous material.
Several factors help determine how damaging contact with toxic materials may be. Quantity is important:
Limited exposure to hazardous materials is less likely to cause injury than repeated exposure. Here we see the enhanced risk for the art teacher in a classroom contaminated with toxic substances. Students come and go throughout the day, but the teacher suffers repeated exposure to such substances. There are many reported cases of severe bronchitis and chemically induced pneumonia among art teachers in daily contact with clay dusts and/or toxic vapors.
"Total body burden" is another risk factor. If one is using ceramic glazes with lead, the total exposure from that lead source must be added to all other environmental exposures to lead, as from car exhaust or water carried through lead pipes. This cumulative amount of lead is the total body burden for that substance, and it may leave little room for additional exposure without severe effects.
Combinations of different chemical substances can cause increased harm. For instance, the inhalation of toxic vapors by someone who smokes creates a much greater risk of injury than for a non-smoker. Likewise, contact with a volatile solvent by someone who also ingests alcohol is more dangerous than for the non-drinker. There is also an increased risk for students who are under prescribed medication for the occurrence of combined or synergistic effects with toxic substances.
Certain groups are at greater personal risk than others are. High risk groups include people with allergies, smokers, drinkers, pregnant girls or women, people with chronic heart, lung, or liver problems, and mainstreamed students with various learning disabilities, emotional problems, or other handicaps. Certainly, a fetus carried by a pregnant student is subject to enormous harm through the mother's contact with toxic substances, especially in the first trimester of pregnancy when, unfortunately, the instructor may have no knowledge of the condition.
Common Toxic Materials and Processes
Safe to use art materials: Those materials which bear the AP or CP seals of approval (from the Arts and Crafts Materials Institute) are toxicologist certified safe for use with children. Other art materials may state that they are "non-toxic" on their labels; however, this claim does not necessarily mean that they have been tested for chronic, long-term effects. The CL seal of the Arts and Crafts Materials Institute means that these products have their potential acute (immediate) and chronic (long-term) hazards listed on the label.
Ceramics poses several health hazards. The clay itself can be toxic, especially if it contains large amounts of crystalline-free silica (SiO2). Prolonged inhalation of silica dust or Kaolin dust can lead to silicosis. The talc traditionally found in low-fire clays has often been contaminated with asbestos, a cancer causing substance. Many companies now offer talc-free clay and asbestos-free talcs.
Clay dusts inhalation is most severe when mixing clays, so it is best to order pre-mixed clay. If one does mix clay from powder, use of local exhaust systems and/or toxic dust respirators is advised. The clay dust covered studio is also a problem. Always wet mop or vacuum with a HEPA-type vacuum cleaner. Never sweep in such a situation.
Glazes can be quite toxic, especially if one mixes them. They often contain silica, flint, talc, feldspar and the like, and, in addition, potentially hazardous metals like lead, barium, and lithium. (Lead frits reduce but do not eliminate the hazards of lead poisoning). Some glazes contain colorants that may cause cancer, like chromium, nickel compounds, zinc chromate, iron chromate, manganese, cadmium, and vanadium. Toxic dust respirators should be worn when mixing glazes, spraying of glazes should only be
done in a spray booth exhausted to the outside, and students should be instructed to keep glazes off hands and skin (especially where small cuts increase toxic entry).
Firing ceramic kilns releases toxic fumes and gases. AU kilns must be well ventilated. Canopy hood systems are the best ventilation solution.
One should not look into the peephole of a kiln with unprotected eyes. Such action over a number of years may cause cataracts, due to the infrared radiation produced when objects within the kiln reach very high temperatures. Infrared goggles should be used to protect the eyes.
Painting may pose health problems depending upon the types of pigments and vehicles used. Some inorganic pigments in common use, such as the chromate and cadmium pigments, may be carcinogenic (cancer causing). Lampblack has been found to cause skin cancer, and the dangers of lead pigments are well documented. Acrylic emulsions contain small amounts of ammonia and formaldehyde that may cause lung and throat irritations without use of proper ventilation, and may cause allergic reactions in some people. Turpentine and especially solvents for varnishes (methyl alcohol and ethanol) and lacquers (toulene and perhaps glycol ethers) are very toxic and should only be used with extreme caution and proper ventilation. The least toxic solvents are acetone, denatured alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, and mineral spirits.
Printmaking involves a range of risks, depending upon the method employed. The use of solvents in silk screen-printing affords multiple, prolonged exposure. Local exhaust ventilation is required to prevent a dangerous accumulation of toxic vapors. It is highly preferable to use water-based inks for all silk screening (and other printmaking as well).
The major dangers in intaglio and lithography are in the acids and etches. Acids may cause severe burns. Etching copper or zinc gives off highly toxic gases that may, in large exposures, cause chemical pneumonia or, in repeated, smaller exposures, cause bronchitis or emphysema. Always remember to add acid to water, never the opposite. Students should never mix acid baths. Rubber gloves, aprons, and face protectors should be worn while working with acid. No use of acids should be included in the art program without ventilation hoods in place over the acid baths.
Jewelry/Sculpture Technique or materials used can be quite hazardous. Local ventilation must be provided over welding and soldering areas. Brazing silver can be especially hazardous because the lowest-melting silver solders contain high proportions of cadmium, which may cause chemical pneumonia from a single exposure. One should use cadmium-free silver solders instead. In addition, borax fluxes should be used rather than the fluoride fluxes commonly used with silver solders. Sparex solutions should be used for cleaning metals rather than sulfuric acid solutions. Both are toxic due to their acidity but the Sparex solution is less corrosive.
Many copper enamels are lead-based, so teachers should be certain to purchase only the lead-free enamels now available. Heated enamels give off infrared radiation; infrared goggles should be worn to protect the eyes from injury (as with ceramic kiln usage).
General art materials often used in drawing or commercial layout may be hazardous. The most obvious of these is rubber cement (and rubber cement thinner) which contains large amounts of highly toxic hexane, a chemical which causes dermatitis, narcosis from inhalation, and possible inflammation/paralysis of the arms and legs from chronic inhalation. Use wax for layouts and substitute other adhesives for other purposes if possible.
Spray fixatives and adhesives are toxic from the inhalation of solvents including toluene, petroleum distillates, and chlorinated hydrocarbons. Spraying should be done outside or in a spray booth ventilated to the outside.
Wax heated for batik or encaustic may be very dangerous. When overheated, wax decomposes to release formaldehyde and acrolein fumes (this occurs when melting wax and when ironing it out of fabric). Heat wax to the lowest effective temperature. Using a hot plate on a high setting or using an open flame to heat wax may result in flash fires or explosions.
Equipment used in various art techniques must be carefully maintained and appropriately used. Students should be instructed in the proper use of items such as potters' wheels, paper cutters, printing presses, buffers, grinders, and airbrushes. It is advisable to require that students pass (perhaps at 100%) tests over correct procedures before allowing them to use such equipment. Be certain that all potentially dangerous equipment is labeled as such and cordoned off (if possible) from the general student population.
(end of STC Safety Plan Rules)
NOTE: In addition to the South Texas College Safety Plan Rules, the following VAM Rules will be followed.
VAM STUDIO RULES & PROCEDURES
The Safety Committee will review the Safety Plan at least once each year. The review will include, but not be limited to the use of all hazardous materials and chemicals.
of new materials, storage, handling/use, waste.
Labeling of art materials is often inadequate. The absence
of a warning label does not mean a substance is harmless. Know what you
are working with.
- Students should read all labels carefully before using any material
for the first time.
- Warnings and precautions, when available, should be adhered to
- If a label is non-specific, confusing, or absent, seek further
information before using.
- If no information is available from the manufacturer consult other
resources such as
material data sheets on file in department offices, Art Hazards News,
Artist Beware, by Michael McCann, Health Hazards Manual for Artists,
also by McCann, Artists Materials, by Ralph Mayer, etc.
- If necessary, write the manufacturer requesting health and safety
information on their product in the form of a Material Safety Data
- All artists should become familiar with the hazardous materials
common to their form of artwork and watch for these substances when
Products bearing the AP seal of the Art & Creative Materials Institute, Inc. (ACMI) are certified non-toxic. A medical expert evaluates each product and its ingredients. A product can be certified non-toxic only if it contains no materials in sufficient quantities to be toxic or injurious to humans, or to cause acute or chronic health problems. AP certification is reviewed by ACMI's Toxicological Advisory Board. These products are certified by ACMI to be labeled in accordance with the chronic hazard labeling standard, ASTM D-4236 and federal law P.L. 100-695.
Products bearing the CL seal of the Art & Creative Materials Institute ("Caution Label") contain ingredients that are toxic or hazardous, but they can be used safely with appropriate caution. Materials that bear the CL seal should be used only by those persons who are able to read, understand, and follow suggested safety precautions for handling those materials. The Caution Label signifies that although the product contains a toxic element, it can be handled safely if the directions on the container or packaging are followed. Many such art products cannot be made non-hazardous, but are necessary for certain creative activities. When used in properly supervised and controlled conditions, they can be enjoyed with complete safety.
Introduction of New Materials
- ALL new chemicals introduced into the studios must be reported immediately via email to the supervisor for each studio. Include the MSDS, date introduced, amount and exact location.
- New products and/or practices which faculty or students wish to
introduce into their studios must be researched before doing so. Again,
use the Material Safety Data Sheets, and request manufacturer information
Storage of Materials
- All hazardous materials must be stored in containers that are
labeled clearly with all contents listed.
- Containers should be tightly covered when not in use.
- Flammable and combustible liquids should be stored in an approved
flammable liquid storage cabinet.
- Acids should be stored separate from flammable and combustible
Handling, Use, Disposal of Materials
- All students must be given detailed instructions on the handling,
use, and disposal of all materials that pose potential health hazards
- Paper towels and rags used in cleanup must be disposed of in metal
non-combustible waste disposal cans.
- Waste disposal cans should be labeled as such, and be taken to
designated pickup areas in compliance with department rules and schedules.
For a complete review of waste issues and procedures
- Report spills immediately to faculty, building coordinator, administration,
safety office, or campus security officer.
STUDIO OPERATIONAL PROCEDURES AND RULES
- Smoking, eating, drug or
alcohol use is not allowed in studios.
- Students should not work alone in the studios at night, and students
should not operate machinery at any time unless one other trained
person is present in the studio.
- Work clothing:
- Any loose clothing that could become trapped in machinery or accidentally
dipped in chemicals must not be worn.
- Hair must be tied back or a headband worn so that it cannot become caught
in machinery. Similar precautions must be taken with beards, personal dress,
- Protective clothing worn during the use of hazardous material should be
removed after work and carefully stored so as to avoid contamination.
- Shoes must be worn at all times in the studios.
- There shall be no unauthorized visitors in the studios. Friends, family,
pets, etc. can see you or talk with you outside the studio.
- Aisles and exit routes must not be obstructed in any way, (no
equipment, chairs, personal materials or trash permitted in exit area). Exit doors,
shall not be locked, bolted or obstructed in any way to block
egress. Emergency Fire Exit doors are "exit only" in compliance with
Fire Department regulations.
- Studio doors (internal and external) are not to be propped open as it creates a hazard to other rooms and interferes with the ventilation.
- Electrical and mechanical hazards: Report any missing or malfunctioning
equipment or supplies immediately. Do not attempt to repair or alter equipment
- A general program must be initiated and enforced by faculty within each
studio space which outlines procedures for housekeeping, and which sets standards
for cleanliness, equipment use and storage of all materials and gear.
- Faculty are responsible for establishing within their studios specific safety
codes for their areas, and a policy for violations of these procedures. Students
must be made aware of the consequences of health and safety violations at the
beginning of the semester.
- Be aware of ignition sources: open flames, heating
elements, spark gaps (motors, light switches, friction, static,
- Do not use flammable liquids in the presence of ignition sources,
and vice versa.
- Flammable liquids give off vapors which may burn or explode. Be
sure they are properly stored and labeled. Do not store flammables
in direct sunlight. Report spills immediately.
- Good housekeeping is a key element in fire prevention, and proper
standards must be enforced in each studio.
- Do not overload electrical circuits, and report ANY electrical
malfunctions, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, immediately
to faculty, building coordinator, administration, safety office, or
campus security officer.
SAFETY & HEALTH PROCEDURES & RULES
- All studios shall
keep appropriate First Aid equipment and supplies on hand, and replenish
such supplies at the beginning of each semester.
- Students shall wear hearing, eye, face, and personal protective
equipment whenever deemed appropriate by the department.
- Housekeeping: procedures for cleaning of all studio spaces,
storage of chemicals, waste and equipment will be established by faculty, and
must be carried out on a regular basis to ensure a safe environment.
- Emergency and Fire procedures and phone numbers for both emergency and non-emergency
- In the event of an emergency:
- CALL: City Fire, Police or Ambulance dial 911 .
- Non-emergency, contact; Security Department Dispatch Office at 956-872-2589..
In the event of fire: sound the alarm, contain or fight the fire only if
possible and practical to do so, evacuate yourself and others from the building.
In the event that a non-emergency situation arises which nevertheless requires
First Aid, call the STC Security Office at ext. 2589 for assistance. First aid boxes
are available in every department for immediate treatment of minor injuries.
All accidents, including those which result in injuries requiring only First
Aid or those which only involve property damage shall be reported to faculty
members in each studio verbally as well as using the Incident & Accident Form
Any illness or physical impairment which may be related to your artwork
(e.g. skin problem, headaches, nausea, etc.) shall be reported to your studio
faculty member immediately.
Post “Fire and Accident Procedures,” in a prominent place in each studio.