University Safety and Assurances

Art Safety: Drawing


Chemical Hazards:

Drawing materials are pigments (raw color) suspended in a vehicle (carrier) such as wax, inert minerals (pastels, conte, crayons, chalks), and liquids (solvent based inks and marking pens). Pencils contain "leads" made of graphite and clay or pigmented clay/binder mixtures (colored pencils).

Drawing inks may contain hazardous dyes and solvents. Skin contact should be avoided.

Dry pastels release respirable-sized pigment and other vehicle particles. Oil pastels contain small amounts of oils and waxes which keep dust particles from becoming airborne and therefore can be used more safely.

The hazards of drawing arise due to exposure to the pigments, vehicles or solvents. The most common exposure to these chemicals is through inhalation by working with raw powdered pigments such as dusty chalks or pastels, by inhaling the dust that accumulates and circulates from drawing materials in the drawing room. Charocal has no significant hazards.


  • Minimize your inhalation of dusts when handling dry pigments.
  • Do not work near a draught or fan that will blow them about.
  • Do not eat drink or smoke when working with drawing materials.
  • Wear dedicated work clothing and launder frequently.
  • Keep your work areas clean by wet-mopping to avoid disturbing settled dust.
  • If possible, work with pigments that you have first wetted into a paste or liquid.
  • Store pigments in sealed, easy to open containers.
  • Protect hands and skin:
    • Wear gloves, especially if you have cuts or abrasions.

    • Use a barrier cream. Barrier creams should be applied about 30 minutes before starting work.
    • Do not allow your hands to get caked in materials - wash your hands frequently and re-apply barrier cream.
    • Keep your hands away from your face and eyes.