Art Material Hazards while Pregnant
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Art Material Hazards while Pregnant
i'm thinking about getting pregnant and wonder if i can keep up my art making. i
don't want to stop painting but i worry about the health of a fetus if it is exposed to
the materials. i curently paint and do printmaking 1-2 times a week. i use oil paints
and printmaking/etching paints along with solvents, paint thinners, matte medium,
guache and acids for making plates. i'm curious if anyone out there continued their
art while pregnant and felt safe about it. were there any alternative materials you
used? my obgyn said that these materials don't stay in the blood so i don't have to
worry about waiting to get pregnant if i'm not using them. she recommended not
using them while pregnant just to be safe, but i wonder how much she knows about
these materials. i'd love advice on how to safely continue using these materials if
that's possible or any other references on toxicity of art materials. thanks!
I did printmaking activities all through my pregnancies and felt safe
about pigments, solvents, etc. because I used a good barrier cream on my
hands, nitrile -- not latex or vinyl -- gloves, and a personally-fitted
respirator whenever it was time to be around solvents.
''Personally-fitted'' respirator because it has to make a good seal
around your nose and mouth. A half-mask one is enough, and it's
reasonably comfortable. You buy the mask and the filter cartridges
separately; for mineral spirits, acetone etc., you want the Organic
Vapors cartridge. They're color-coded, and the 3M Organic Vapors one is
black. The barrier cream is especially nice (it's called Travabon and
it's made by Stockhausen) because it keeps your hands underneath it
wonderfully clean; you can get smudges of ink on your hands and then
wash them off with water! But don't use it as a substitute for gloves,
use it in addition to them. You can get all these things at Industrial
Safety Supply, in Emeryville, corner of Hollis and 40th Streets.They
appear to have an online store, but don't be fooled; it sucks. Go in
during their walk-in hours, and you'll walk out with everything you
need, and they will help you very capably and kindly. Good luck!
When I got pregnant I totally changed my art materials -- I gave up oil
painting and worked in acrylic for a while but when that wasn't entirely
satisyfing, I researched a bit into water-soluble oil paints and ended
up really liking the Winsor Newton ''Artisan''
paints -- no thinners or solvents, cleans and thins with water.
There are MANY toxins that might be harmful to your baby -- why risk it?
There are also waterbased printmaking inks, you might check those out.
Some further info on the web:
''Safety Concerns for Pregnant Painters'':
''Physical Hazards of Chemicals'':
(Near the bottom of that page they talk specifically about reproductive
toxins -- teratogens and embryotoxins.) Art Mama
Of possible interest:
Art hazards, from Cal/EPA
As a long-time printmaker I know there are health hazards in some art
materials. Yahoo has a pretty active printmakers group @Yahoo.com. Sign
up for the group; check their archives, & post your inquery. California
Society of Printmakers (CSP) has a website also; don't know if you have
to be a member to ask a question, but check it out. You could also call
the Achenbach Foundation at the Legion of Honor Museum in SF & see if
anyone there can help you. The book, "Health Hazards in the Arts",
published by the U. of Alberta Press, also contains much info. Good luck
& keep creating.
I don't have any references for you, but I suggest you do some research
on your own. Your instincts are correct. Solvents are some of the most
toxic (to the nervois system in particular) materials you can handle on
a day to day basis. Absolutely contraindicated for pregnant and nursing
this page was last updated: Nov 4, 2007
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