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FAMILY : Choose Kids' Supplies Good Enough to Eat

September 23, 1993|THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Arts and crafts can feed children's souls and decorate parents' refrigerators. Careful selection of art supplies can help keep children safe while they create.

Children under 12 should not be allowed to use hazardous art materials. Remember, preschoolers often put materials in their mouths and may swallow them. Children also are more susceptible to health risks from toxic art supplies than adults because they have a faster metabolism, more body surface relative to their weight and faster rates of breathing.

Some commonly used materials that are safe when used by adults can be hazardous to children. Cold water fiber-reactive dyes or other commercial dyes should be avoided. If a dye is called for, use one made from foods or plants, such as onion skin, tea or flowers.

Powdered tempera colors, pastels and dry markers can create toxic dust and should be avoided. Choose crayons, oil pastels and dustless markers for coloring.

Be especially careful with papier-mache and clay. These materials can create dust harmful to children. Instant papier-mache may contain asbestos fibers or lead from pigments in colored printing inks. Select an approved papier-mache or use black-and-white newspapers and library or white paste.

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