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Old 01-29-2011, 02:38 PM
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Advice requested re pastel dust

Hi!

As a relatively new pastel artist with a small "studio" in a home office/study/guest bedroom, I worry about pastel dust regarding toxicity. How harmful is the dust? Do I really need a ventilation system?

Any advice would be appreciated!
Thanks
Sharon L in Vermont
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Old 01-29-2011, 04:04 PM
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DAK723 DAK723 is offline
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Re: Advice requested re pastel dust

Here is a previous thread that discussed this issue:

http://wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=516924

My personal recommendation is to wear a dust mask while using pastels. This is more because of the potential for coughs and respiratory issues, not necessarily because of toxicity issues. An air purifier with a HEPA filter might also be a good idea, but they aren't cheap. I usually just vacuum frequently. Just try to minimize the amount of dust that gets into the air - so don't blow on your painting! Some sort of dust catching tray at the bottom of your easel is also a good idea.

As far as the toxicity goes, I think if you use the usually recommended studio practices - wash hands, do not eat while painting or let pastels into areas where you have food - then I think there is little to worry about. If you are worried about cadmiums, for example, many pastel makers do not use them, although some do. You can check Dick Blick's website to get some idea (although not 100% reliable) regarding which sticks have the warning labels.

Again, I think the biggest issue with the dust is a possibility of respiratory issues, for which a simple dust mask will usually suffice.

Don
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Last edited by DAK723 : 01-29-2011 at 04:07 PM.
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Old 01-29-2011, 07:08 PM
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Adriana Meiss Adriana Meiss is offline
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Re: Advice requested re pastel dust

You have reasons to be concerned. The dust is an irritant. When I forget to wear my mask I get dryness in my throat and sometimes dry cough.

As Don said, wear a mask, vacuum regularly, and get yourself an air purifier if you can. I got one at Sears for less than $200 and it made a big difference in my studio, as it doesn't smell dusty anymore. I turn it on only when I'm not working in the studio. I hope to be able to buy a better one someday...

Also, if you work on an easel use a strip of tacking paper or a 2" wide strip of masking tape at the base of your work to catch the falling pastel dust. A wet paper towel will do too. Remove it as often as necessary.

It's not a good idea to eat nor drink from a cup in your studio when you are painting.
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Old 01-29-2011, 07:37 PM
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Re: Advice requested re pastel dust

Many thanks for the advice, Don and Adriana. I'll have to watch a habit of blowing on the artwork. I'll try the mask and the sticky tape at the bottom.
An air purifier isn't in the budget right now!
Sharon L in Vermont
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Old 01-29-2011, 11:46 PM
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Re: Advice requested re pastel dust

Definitely stop blowing. Take the artwork outside if you need to remove excess dust. Blowing is probably the worst thing to do. You've gotten great advice, definitely do a lot of vacuuming.
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Old 01-30-2011, 11:51 AM
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Re: Advice requested re pastel dust

I find that pastels and the dust dry out my hands terribly after frequent use . I would buy yourself a cheap box of latex or vinyl gloves to wear and use hand cream frequently
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Old 02-01-2011, 01:55 PM
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Re: Advice requested re pastel dust

I had a bad habit of blowing the dust off my paintings, which ended up irritating my eyes (I wear contact lenses). So I got an easel. I no longer work horizontally with larger formats now, and with my boards tilted forward on the easel, the dust just falls off onto the floor. I clean up the easel and work space with Swiffer dry cloth sheets, which collect dust very well.

We're wanting baby no. 2, so I don't want to risk any absorption of toxins through my hands. So I wear vinyl gloves now.
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Old 02-01-2011, 02:41 PM
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Re: Advice requested re pastel dust

The back of my hands recently got itchier when I use soft pastels. I've been wearing non-vinyl gloves too but then I'm wondering if the gloves is making the top of my fingers itch.

If I don't wear gloves, my fingertips get dry and crack.

My throat is dry and my lips especially gets dry. I wear a face mask and I don't breathe normally. Sigh. It's such a pretty medium but so many disadvantages.

After using sanded surface, there is less dust. I'm not even going to use pastels with just plain normal paper.
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