Art Safety

Many of us have handled and worked with materials associated with the arts since childhood, and it is difficult to believe that these creative efforts could be hazardous to our health. Research has shown, however, that an artist's craft has the potential to adversely affect the artist's health. If not properly used, art materials and processes can cause physical injury or illness or initiate fires. ~ Excerpt from UE-Safety Guide for Art Studios

Hampshire College has developed an art barn use policy that students must read and sign prior to being granted studio space. In addition, students must also read The Safety Guide for Art Studios (pdf) by Thomas Ouimet.

Hampshire College is committed to ensuring that students understand the hazards of the materials they are working with, that they choose and use materials responsibly, and that the art barn is a safe work environment for all.

Product Safety Information

You can learn about the hazards of a product by reading the label, or the product's material safety data sheet (MSDS). Material safety data sheets are maintained in the art barn. Refer to your art barn use policy for more information.

Toxic Pigments

Do not use paints that contain arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, or mercury. They are toxic to you and the environment. Read the label before each purchase.

Spray Paint

Spray paint is flammable and produces very strong fumes. Spray paint cannot be used in the art barn or inside any building at Hampshire College. Spray paint must be used outside and stored in a flammable storage cabinet when not in use.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Wear gloves when you anticipate skin contact while working with paints and solvents. Always wash your hands thoroughly after removing your gloves.

Wear eye protection when there is a risk of splash, flying particles, dust, or other hazard.

Containers and Storage

When you are not actively working, all containers must be closed, labeled, and properly stored. Labels must clearly state the product name and hazard(s), if any. Your products must be also labeled with your name and the date that you brought the material to the art barn. Your art barn use policy contains more detailed information regarding this.  

Flammable or combustible products must be stored in a yellow flammable storage cabinet when not in use.


When removing oil paint from palettes, scrape the paint globs into the flammable solids drum.

Rags and towels soaked with mineral spirits, paint thinner, linseed oil, oil paints, or other flammable or combustible material must be put in the waste flammable solids drum.

Waste mineral spirits, gamsol, turpenoids, or other flammable liquid must be poured into the waste flammable liquids drum.

Make sure all containers are tightly closed, correctly labeled, and properly stored.

Make sure that the safety-kleen unit and hazardous waste drums are closed.

Ensure that your work area is organized so that exit paths are clear and that fire extinguishers are not blocked.

Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water when you are done working, and before eating, drinking, or smoking.

Tools and Links

Ansell Chemical Resistance Guide PDF

Art Safety-A Six Step Process Video

Global Harmonization System Chemical Labeling PDF

The Healthy, Safe Studio Daniel Smith Co.

How to Read an MSDS PDF

Incident Investigation Report Form PDF