Consumer goods used at home, in school, and for recreation are subject to rigorous safety standards to protect the public from potential safety hazards. With children and teachers returning to in-person and online learning environments, Dr. Derek Drechsel, a toxicologist and product safety specialist at CTEH, provided insight regarding safety requirements for art materials.

“At a time of heightened public awareness and increasing regulatory demand, the need for scientifically sound approaches to protecting consumer health is critical,” said Dr. Drechsel. “Art materials, in particular, are in high demand by teachers and students and are subject to federal and state regulations for hazardous substances.”

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), safety regulations apply to crayons, colored pencils, chalk, ink (in pens and markers), paints and paint kits, glue, clay, stickers and more. In addition, art materials designed primary for children 12 years of age and younger have even more stringent requirements.

“All art materials that are sold in the United States must be evaluated by a toxicologist,” Drechsel said. “Based on a review of the potential to cause chronic hazards to the consumer, a toxicologist will recommend precautionary labeling as necessary.” Consumers should look for products labeled with ‘Conforms to ASTM D-4236’ to ensure a product has undergone this review.

Art materials may also be subject to testing requirements or bans based on the presence of hazardous substances, such as lead. Some states, such as California, prohibit schools from ordering or purchasing products that contain substances that may be toxic or carcinogenic during normal use, and regulators have supplied lists of specific products that cannot be purchased for grades K-6.

CTEH’s toxicologists can help to navigate regulatory and labeling requirements for art supplies. “Our experience in product stewardship includes the areas of regulatory support, testing strategies, safety evaluations, and communication with stakeholders,” Drechsel said.

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