The warning signs when working with arts and crafts materials

November 06, 1990

If you work regularly with art or craft materials that are toxic, be aware of symptoms that might show your susceptibility to various chemicals. According to "Safe Practices in the Arts and Crafts: A Studio Guide," you should be suspicious if:

* you develop asthma as an adult. Asthmas beginning in adults almost invariably come from environmental contaminants.

* your symptoms are worse when you work -- especially after long sessions -- and improve when you stay away from your studio.

* you have an increase in the frequency or severity of your respiratory infections, especially those in which you are short of breath.

* you have rashes or skin problems.

* you get frequent dizzy spells, find areas of numbness or feel tingling or other altered sensations, especially if you are working with organic solvents or use a repetitive hand process.

* you have a ringing in your ears and work in noisy conditions.

Plan to keep a diary of the chemicals or materials you use by trade name and try to record the frequency of your exposure to them. If you are regularly exposed to dusts or solvents that may affect your lungs, ask your physician to schedule a pulmonary function test every two or three years.

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