Thursday, July 21, 2011

Environmental Impact of the Arts: Artist Survival Kit Recap

On July 14, the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition partnered with the Oklahoma Museums Association and the Department of Environmental Quality to present a workshop focused on the environmental impact of the artist’s studio and how to make the studio a more “green” place.

The workshop was packed full of information! Below are some guidelines that will hopefully help you to make your studio a safer and more environmentally friendly work space. If you have questions about any of your specific materials or practices, contact the DEQ for advice. Dianne Wilkins is available to help you at 800-869-1400 or by email.

There are a lot of buzz words floating around regarding the environment. So what’s the difference between green and sustainable? Being green means making choices that are environmentally friendly. Sustainability is a broader concept incorporating social, economic and environmental responsibility. Making sustainable choices helps you to reduce costs and remain competitive with other businesses.

  1. Learn about your materials. Know what you’re using, what effects it could have and how to dispose of it. A good tool is the MSDS (material safety data sheet) which is available for nearly any chemical. Find them at or from the vendor/manufacturer of the material. Keep them on hand for all your regularly used chemicals. If the information could impact the care of your work over time, consider sharing it with collectors as well.
  2. Don’t do anything without the right equipment and ventilation. As an artist, you are likely working out of your home, which means you are experiencing long term exposure to your materials. Though you may be working with some industrial materials, OSHA standards do not apply to you because you are not in an industrial setting. You can refer to your MSDS or material warning labels for information about ventilation. If you can smell it, that means the chemical is entering your body. Make sure you are protecting yourself!
  3. Get proper training for your equipment. Make sure you are using all of your equipment properly and taking all safety precautions. Training is available through OSHA classes, equipment vendors, vocational schools, etc.
  4. Get re-trained annually, or whenever your equipment is updated or changed.
  5. Remember to USE the safety equipment ANY time you work. Those safety goggles can’t do much for you if you don’t wear them. Even if you think you are just going to be in the studio for a few minutes, take all the necessary precautions to keep yourself safe.

Aerosol spray Cans: Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility
Liquid Glazes: Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility
Solvent based glues and cements: Safely evaporate; Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility
Metals with toxic compounds: Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility
Paints, varnishes and stains: Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility
Photochemical: Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility
Plastic Resins: Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility
Clay, minerals: Regular garbage
Dyes & Powders: Regular garbage
Water based glues and cements: Allow drying; Regular garbage
Wood and alloys: Construction materials recycling area at landfill
Metals: Scrap metal recycling area at landfill; metals recyclers
Solvents may be reused:
  1. Slowly pour used or dirty solvents through fine steel mesh or coffee filter inserted in a metal funnel and into a receiving can.
  2. Cap and clearly label the container as to what it contains and when it was retrieved.
  3. Package the dirty solvents and chemicals in the filter in separate containers for solvents and filters and take to the Household Hazardous Waste Depot.

This information is meant to serve as a guide only. Please note that the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility is for residential use only and may not accept pesticides or paints that contain PCBs. Materials should be in original containers.


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