Acrylics and Health

One of the biggest benefits of Acrylics is health.

I’ve always been aware of some of the health concerns associated with art. The chemicals used in paint are not particularly benign. Turpentine although not actively poisonous isn’t healthy. I’ve done a little gunsmithing and one of the chemicals used is potassium cyanide. Nothing that I’ve encountered in art comes close as far as lethality but it has made me careful. Paints can have some nasty chemicals and poisons.  I’ve always liked Cobalt blue. Clearly the paint manufacturers have tried to keep the nastier chemicals out of acrylics and have been trying to replace them in oils.

Turpentine is interesting. As a terpene it’s not actually poisonous. Many substances that we might ingest contain terpenes. Absinth I find the most interesting. Its affects are linked to artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, Edouard Manet, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Acrylics are almost devoid of most of the nastier chemicals. I’ve read reports of acrylic off-gassing causing some problems but only in extreme situations and usually with house paint. Elements like cadmium and cobalt can simply be avoided by being careful (don’t eat while you paint) or using colours with other pigments.

If you prefer oils and/or pigments containing cobalt and cadmium then paint to your hearts content but be careful.