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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Health and Safety in Arts Education: Regulations & Policies

Health, safety, and source reduction information for artists and art educators, including theater arts.

Regulations & Policies


Concern for healthy and safe schools has recently included art safety policies. Programs are being adopted in many states and communities across the country. A number of state and local policies for school hazards management exist to regulate art materials (including theater, industrial, and visual arts). These can serve as models for other states and school districts. As these examples change, and the numbers of states with school toxic art supply regulations expand, these states will be recognized. Criteria for content will include changes in regulatory legislation as well as media releases and case studies that pertain to ongoing developments in schools at federal, state, and local levels.

State laws and regulations

In late 2005, Ohio approved Jarod's Law HB 203. This was a response to the accidental death of 6-year-old Jarod Bennett, who lost his life when a 290-pound table toppled over on him. This tragedy led to the formation of HB 203. Key elements of this law are as follows:

  • Creation of the School Health and Safety Network in Ohio
  • Annual school inspections for unsafe health, safety, and sanitation conditions by the Ohio State Board of Health
  • Publicly available published inspection reports for each school
  • Mandatory written plans, including timeframes, for remediation of each item identified as not in compliance by the inspection
  • Review of school?s remediation plans by the Boards of Health to ensure proper compliance with the inspection
  • Auditing and review by State of Ohio Auditor?s Office to ensure overall integrity of Health and Safety Network Program

The following are examples of legislation passed in some states that apply to school art safety and hazard identification: 

Individual school districts may also have restrictions on art supplies and safety procedures that apply to their schools. State and local health departments frequently have guidelines found in hazardous materials regulations, but many still lack comprehensive guidelines that specifically apply to arts education programs. Check with your local school district to see what laws apply.

Federal laws and regulations

Federal laws

The Labeling of Hazardous Art Materials Act (LHAMA) requires that all art materials be reviewed to determine the potential for causing a chronic hazard and that appropriate warning labels be put on those art materials found to pose a chronic hazard. Furthermore, LHAMA applies to art materials that are intended for use in the household or by children after November 18, 1990. This legislation established the current standard practices for labeling art materials. The Art and Materials Creative Institute has developed a plain language guide to the law. The Consumer Product 

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) establishes consumer product safety standards and other safety requirements for children’s products and to reauthorize and modernize the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The major components of this new law include lowering lead levels in children’s products, permanent and interim bans on six phthalates in toys and childcare articles, required third party testing of children’s products, and the required issuance of conformity and third party testing certificates with each product shipment. The law wraps in compliance to ASTM F 963, a toy safety standard which exempts art materials products unless they are themselves or produce a product primarily of play value. The law also reauthorizes the Consumer Product Safety Commission and increases their budget and enforcement authority. The Art and Materials Creative Institute has developed a plain language guide to the law.

Federal regulations

Federal legislation for safety regulates hazardous materials and unsafe working conditions.

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