Toxicity of Acrylic Paint?

Reader Question: I have wanted to study painting (as a hobby) but have stayed away from it because of the toxicity issue associated with oil paint solvents. Now I want to try acrylics but have read that the paints themselves are toxic. Any comments?

It is my understanding that most acrylic paints are not toxic when they are used for typical acrylic painting purposes, because they are water-based. The acrylic colors that contain toxic chemicals will have it marked on the label - these include cadmium, cobalt, manganese, chromium, and lead. They only become toxic when used for airbrushing, or when sanded, or if large amounts are accidentally ingested. For the most part, when you use them for typical acrylic painting purposes (applying them with a brush to the canvas), then they won't be harmful to you.

I hope that helps! Acrylics really are quite safe to use. Since they are water-based, they are easy to clean with soap and water, without the use of any toxic cleaning chemicals. This is one reason why I favor acrylic paint over oil paints.

Best wishes and have fun painting!

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