Marker Hazards and Children

Recently, I went to pick up my daughter from her second grade classroom, and found the whole room smelling of solvents.  The teacher had them working with solvent-based markers.  My daughter said that they work with these markers quite often, and there is no open windows or ventilation in the classroom.  What should I say to the teacher? - New Jersey Mother

(Permanent, solvent-based markers are not appropriate for primary school childrens' use.  The material safety data sheet (MSDS) will list the solvents in the hazardous ingredients section.  This should be available in the classroom, or the school  safety  or supply  office.  If the  teacher doesn't have the MSDS handy, it can be obtained from the manufacturer.  While alcohol-based markers are better than ones with xylene, solvent-based markers are not recommended for children.  Children should use water- based markers that are labeled nontoxic, in accordance with ASTM D4236 on the marker itself.   If the marker is not water-based, this means it has solvents and should not be used.  If children  need to draw lines that will stay on paper that is to be wet, then they can experiment with oil sticks and markers combined.  Similarly, whiteboard markers should be avoided, these too contain solvents. -Ed.)

Art Hazard News, Volume 21, No. 2, 1998

This article was originally printed for Art Hazard News, © copyright Center for Safety in the Arts 1998. It appears on nontoxicprint courtesy of the Health in the Arts Program, University of Illinois at Chicago, who have curated a collection of these articles from their archive which are still relevant to artists today.