The teacher had been teaching silk screen printing with solvent-based inks in a room without any ventilation, and many of the windows nailed shut. A standing fan was finally provided in 1984 after repeated complaints about lack of ventilation. This, however, was not adequate ventilation since it doesn't exhaust the contaminated air, but just stirs it around. Her symptoms included loss of sensation in hands and feet, neurological and personality changes, memory loss, inability to concentrate, confusion, problems with manual dexterity - all symptoms of brain damage associated with high exposures to the solvents found in these silk screen printing inks.
The Center for Safety in the Arts
recommends against silk screen printing with solvent-based inks in
public schools because of the high hazard associated with many students
doing printing at the same time. Instead, we recommend using
water-based inks with either paper stencils or photostencils, thus
eliminating the solvent exposure.
Art Hazard News, Volume 11, No. 9, 1988
This article was originally printed for Art Hazard News, copyright Center for Safety in the Arts 1988. It appears on CAR and on our site courtesy of the Health in the Arts Program, University of Illinois at Chicago, who have curated a collection of these articles from their archive which are still relevant to artists today.
How do I find Legal Help if needed?
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration OSHA give advice,
have an extensive website and regional offices,
and operate a confidential reporting and help service.
Some lawyers and law firms may also be able to give advice
on issues with paint, ink, and solvent safety,
and advise on issues of presumed workplace hazards.
There are few firms that specialize in this subject exclusively.
Lawyers specializing in medical malpractice or environmental law
may have additional expertise in paint and print safety,
or are able to draw on expert advice as needed.
Instance The Lexington Law Group specialize in this field. Recently,
they represented consumers in connection with a case against paint
makers B Moore in relation to toxicity found in first-generation Natura Paints. OSHA.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is often consulted,
and in serious cases reported to, when employers are involved in
presumed H+S shortcomings or incidents. Some law firms, for instance
Walter & Prince LLP focus on cases that require OSHA support.
Facebook Forum on Safety in the Arts and Entertainment. This
Facebook forum is devoted to health and safety hazards in the visual
arts. Safety in the Arts welcomes comments, links to websites, reports
of incidents, health issues and safety concerns, events, workshop and conference
listings, etc. Experts such as Michael McCann PhD, David Hinkamp, MD, MPH, or Monona Rossol, MS, MFA, may also offer advice on legal aspects. Click on image to access this forum moderated by Michael McCann. Facebook membership required.