San Francisco Department of the Environment

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Art Products & Practices

Safer Painting Products & Practices

Many common art materials contain toxic chemicals which can lead to health problems - from headaches and nausea to chronic lung damage. Art materials also can be hazardous to the environment and unsafe if not used or disposed of properly. Choose safer art supplies, and find out how to use, store and dispose of them safely.


Safe Disposal: Most commercially-produced art materials cannot be placed in any of the three bins, nor poured down the drain. Find out how to safely dispose of art materials.

Safer Products: Choose safer products from manufacturers that list their ingredients.

Safer Practices: Whether you work in a studio or a room in your house, use safe practices around your art materials. Book a free workshop or call (415) 355 3766 for more details. See what other artists have to say about the wokshops:

  • "...all artists should know about the hazards of the materials we work with and take precautions toward health and safety.” - Soad Kader, Artist
  • "…I especially liked your demo on the process for cleaning brushes and handling waste. Much of the information is so important for artists to have. Many artists care a lot about the environment but may not realize they are using outdated methods that harm the environment. Like any other profession we need updated professional training from time to time." - Carolyn Crampton, Artist
  • "I learned many many things I hadn't thought about previously. If you don't change immediately what you use, so be it. But what is important is that you are now conscious of the dangers you are exposing yourself to. Changes will come after that message sinks in.  I would recommend that if you're planning on attending, familiarize yourself with the component parts of the of the products you use. The workshop will have more meaning for you."  - Steve Mostica, Artist
  • "We should be asked: 'Where does your used ,dirty solvent go, where does the leftover paint go after cleanup?' We might say, 'My leftover stuff is just a little bit, it will not disturb the environment.' But we have to be reminded that thousand times a little bit will be much. Maria Mayr, Artist
  • "I highly recommend this workshop. I learned about toxicity in art materials, safer studio practices and where to find information relevant to the materials and techniques that I use. Also, helped me find an industrial engineer who is helping me design a ventilation system for my studio." - Lorna Stevens, Artist

Related Downloads

Safer Art Products & Practices Training
Safer Art Products & Practices Factsheet
Safer Art Products & Practices Studio Flyer

Additional Resources

Safer Art - King County, Washington’s Resource on Safer Art Materials
Art Safety Training Guide - Princeton University
Artist Beware by Michael McCann  - book published 1989
Artist's Complete Guide to Health and Safety by Monona Rossol  -  book published 1994

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