View Full Version : Health & Safety - Toxic materials

05-23-2000, 05:44 AM
Have discovered recently that the Art Spectrum Pastels made in Australia are free from heavy metals,asbestos or any other toxic materials.

06-07-2000, 11:35 PM
Rod, the pastel materials are only part of the problem. The dust that they produce is the main concern. The main extender used in pastels is calcium carbonate, also the main ingredient in Rolaids! Sounds harmless enough but is a problem for the lungs. all dust creates a hazard for breathing it in, so protect yourself with a good mask and don't blow on you work to knock off excess pastel build up. I make my own and know what I put in them. be careful of the dust and wear gloves. the best pigments are extreemly 'Fine' in micron size and can enter thru the skin. Hope this helps

06-08-2000, 12:48 AM
Thanks for the info Terry, I was wondering.
It is confusing as I have watched numerous videos made by leading british pastelists yet have not seen one of them wearing protective clothing, most rub in using the palm of their hand,
<FONT face="Stencil">Thanks Rod</FONT f>

06-09-2000, 11:28 PM
I have only tried pastels once. I was dragged kicking and screaming to a workshop, thinking I was going to hate them...I was wrong. I loved them!!!

The instructor there, told us, to wear a mask, if we worked on a large work.

One of the other participants, (an abstract/ expressionist, who is very successful with her paintings,she took this workshop to try her hand at more realistic work), told of working with a lot of red on a very large work. She became quite ill, x-rays revealed her lungs were coated with pastel dust.

The instructor, also, advised never use a solvent to clean your skin when using pastels. It will absorb the properties of the pigments into the skin. They may not be toxic, but, you can never be sure what your system will reject, causing irritation. Some folks have different tolarances than others. Alway, clean your skin with mild soap and water.

Those were the only cautions he advised, and seems simple enough to implement.

BTW, I really did love working with pastels, after being forced into it. Have two very nice full sheets of Ersta sanded paper, right now. Just trying to overcome that blank page block at this time. Any suggestions to kick start a beginner?

Sincerely, Billie Dawn

06-11-2000, 07:44 AM
This topic really concerns me as my daughter teaches and uses pastels daily. She never wears a mask, and uses "wet ones" for cleaning her hands. I will print this out and present it to her!!! Anymore info you think I should pass on?
BTW...she taps the paintings against the table to remove excess dust,, or sometimes just blows it off....whew
signed: a concerned Mother.... http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif Carol

06-11-2000, 08:15 AM
I always use barrier cream for my hands when working with pastel. Use the kind you buy in art shops rather than the stuff used on babies bottoms as I found the latter marked the surface of the painting (the cream on my hands not babies bottoms, IYSWIM http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/wink.gif ).
I use Windsor & Newton's Artguard. It makes cleaning your hands much easier. But I think pastel dust is more of a worry so you should always be careful when doing anything that generates a lot of it.

06-11-2000, 10:09 PM
Oh Sandi....don't have an answer to that one but maybe if you spit in technicolor it is a good sign?? lol (sorry, couldn't resist that one)... http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif
Seriously, hope you will take cautions now!

06-12-2000, 04:22 AM
I think the worst habit is blowing the pastel dust off into the air, a habit we are probably all guilty of,
I wonder if using sandpaper rather than canson paper would be more risky as it would wear down the pastel quicker and produce more dust.

Phyllis Franklin
06-12-2000, 06:35 AM
I bet that working outside would be a lot better than working inside a closed studio as well. You know, I have never really given to much thought about dust and how it would get into our lungs. I bet this applies to our pets as well.


Yep this is Phy...llis
Sounds like Lizz.
Visit the Virtual Cafe Guerbois Today! (http://www.artistnation.com/members/paris/cafe)

06-12-2000, 09:45 AM
Good point llis....and come to think of it, we are concerned about 2nd hand smoke for others, especially children. I bet this dust can be equally lethal...have heard some rather horrific accounts of problems for artists, but makes me wonder now about pets and other people too. http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif Carol

06-12-2000, 05:38 PM
In my referrence to the pastelist who had inhaled so much pastel dust...she is fine now, I didn't as details, but assume she recouped much the way someone with pnumonia might. I noticed she dosen't wear a mask when working on a small (half-sheet, 22x16) work. She said the mask they recommended would be on of those white, allergy masks, like some people use when mowing the lawn.

I think all that they were suggesting in their cautions, was to be aware, i.e., wear a mask when working close, with heavy applications, or applying vigorously. And, use plain soap and water to clean up with. BTW, I think something like babywipes would fall into the soap and water catagory, after all is is gentle enough for a baby's behind.

Maybe, my suggestions translated more danger than I intended to imply. Sorry, didn't mean to cause a panic. Just wanted to make you aware, of possibilities to avoid.

Billie Dawn

06-12-2000, 09:23 PM
No panic here billie.... but knew personally about one woman who ignored her own respiratory problems, and did not wear a mask. I won't go into what happened to her . She should have known better, but we all need to be at least aware..
This is a topic that deserved posting. http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif Carol

06-12-2000, 09:30 PM
Originally posted by Rod:

I wonder if using sandpaper rather than canson paper would be more risky as it would wear down the pastel quicker and produce more dust.

I don't think so Rod. I had a huge mess when I used to use Canson paper. Now that I use only sanded papers, I find that the paper really grips the pastel. I'd go so far as to say that the sanded paper leaves me with 1/5 of the amount of dust. That makes me very happy. http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif



06-13-2000, 04:08 PM
Right Gisela..because the sanded (and the new Wallis paper) have more "tooth", they hold the pugment much better than the canson and low surface papers where a lot of it falls from the paper. Here is one trick others can adapt...place the paper on the drawing board or other surface..vertical..so the dust falls to the bottom..across the bottom..use a 2" or wider masking tape, with only it's edge adhered to the work surface ( I use 2 strips of tape..so the projection is about 3 1/2"), this traps the falling pastel to the sticky surface and keeps it from migrating into the air or to the artist. I have been doing this for 10 years..also working on sanded paper that long, do not wear a mask..too annoying..and have never had a problem. An air purifier and good ventilation also help!! Sandy