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Is Acrylic Paint Toxic or Safe? 23 Brands Toxicity Included

You’re starting to learn the wonders of painting. You’ve heard different suggestions on how to start painting and among them, acrylic painting pops out as among the most accessible for beginners.

You wonder what acrylic paint brand to buy. But wait! Have you asked yourself: “Is acrylic paint toxic?”

Most acrylic paints aren’t toxic for painting and safe for kids and adults. Non-toxic acrylic paint doesn’t mean no toxins, it means toxins are within the safety limits. Some of these harmful substances are heavy metals like cadmium, cobalt, and chromium and you will see the warning on the label.

is acrylic paint toxic

Is acrylic paint safe or toxic?

Water-based acrylic paints are generally safe.

As long as you don’t do anything extreme with your paint, and just paint, you will be ok!

Acrylics can be toxic if overexposed, airbrushed, burnt, largely inhaled, or consumed.

Acrylic paint is prepared using 4 main ingredients:

  • the pigment,
  • a binding agent (acrylic polymer emulsion),
  • a solution, and
  • some additives or preservatives.

However, non-toxic acrylic paints don’t mean no toxins, it means toxins and harmful chemicals are within the safety limits.

Most brands suspend the pigment in water (the solution). The toxicity may hide in pigments and additives.

Some components can harm you if you inhale their fumes for a long time.

This is because the fumes come from the ingredients used to make the paint, and the label non-toxic usually means that the concentration of the harmful ingredients is so low that it won’t cause issues, but they may still be there.

Brands, like Liquitex, have Conforms to ASTM D4236 label, which means the paint was tested in the US and confirmed non-toxic.

Liquitex was one of the first brands to start talking about health hazards and making paint safe for artists, however, a few pigments may still contain cadmium which you will see on the label.

Acrylic paint is not toxic after drying but may release harmful fumes with ammonia, formaldehyde, and Propylene glycol drying.

Dry your paintings in a well ventilated space with no direct sunlight.

What acrylic paint ingredients can be toxic:

  • Biocide (preservatives, rarely may cause allergy)
  • Cadmium (for cadmium colors, yellows and reds, cancerogenic only if inhaled)
  • Titanium dioxide (white pigment, cancerogenic only if sprayed and inhaled)
  • Zinc (fever, chills, muscular pain, or nausea if over-exposed).
  • Lead (for pigments, very rare today)
  • Nickel (cancerogenic if ingested).
  • Cobalt (skin and breathing issues)
  • Carbon Black (cancerogenic)
  • Cerulean (for blue pigments, causes skin irritation)
  • Arsenic (cancerogenic if accumulated in the body)
  • Copper (harmful only if inhaled or swallowed)
  • Strontium
  • Mercury (poisoning and nerve damage only if accumulated in the body)
  • Chromium (bad for lungs, maybe cancerogenic for humans and animals).
  • Magnesium
  • Crystalline silica (cancerogenic if sprayed and inhaled)
  • Formaldehyde (may be released when the paint dries).
  • Ammonia (also when dries)
  • Propylene glycol (during drying, ok for painting but bad for the environment)
  • Manganese (overexposure may damage Central Nervous System)
  • Mica (bad for lungs)
  • Quinacridones (used for pigments, bad for skin and eyes)

It means unless the brand makes a toxin-free formula, know which acrylic paints are toxic (if ingested or inhaled, but safe for painting): Cadmium red, cadmium yellow, cadmium orange, Cerulean blue, Cobalt blue, Titanium white, vermillion (mercury), Naples yellow (lead), copper in Phthalo Blue, Manganese brown, black, gray, violet, purple, umber, etc.

Earth Paint100% Safe paint for kids, and adults. Even on the skin.Natural Earth Paint Kit
Apple BarrelNon-toxicApple Barrel 18 pc
Craft SmartNon-toxictCraft Smart Paint Set
Winsor and NewtonLow-toxicity
Galeria is non-toxic,
some colors in the Professional series contain toxic ingredients: cadmium, biocide and titanium dioxide, but the brand is switching to cadmium-free formulas
WN Galeria Paint Set
Artist’s LoftNon-toxicPaint Tube Set Artist's Loft
Master’s TouchNon-toxicMaster's Touch Acrylic Paints
Tamiya SprayToxic. Contains acetone and harmful solvents. Do not inhaleTamiya Spray Paint
Daler RowneyNon-toxic, zero VOCs,
but not recommended to drain
System 3
DecoartNon-toxicDecoArt Paint
Some pigments contain cadmium, carbon black, cerulean blue, crystalline silica, cobalt, chromium, manganese, copper, and ammonium hydroxide. All paints will release Propylene glycol while drying.
Full safety data is here.
Golden Acrylics
Yet, some products contain cadmium, biocide and the white color may contain titanium dioxide
Liquitex BASICS

Cadmium-free series
FolkartNon-toxicFolkArt Paints
Delta CreativeNon-toxicDelta Creative Paints
Pigments contain preservatives like biocides and IPBC (fungicide/antimicrobial)
Amsterdam Standard
MagicflyNon-toxicMagicfly Bulk Set
CaliartNon-toxicCaliart Acrylic Set
VallejoNon-toxicVallejo Basic
Hippie CrafterNot toxic, safe for the planetAcrylic Pour Paint
UtrechtAP-certified non-toxic, cadmium-free paintsUtrecht Acrylics
Blick Art Acrylic PaintAP-certified non-toxicBlick Studio Paint
Lascauxconforms to ASTM D 4236 and European Safety Norm EN71-3, yet there is cadmium in some pigments.Lascaux Acrylics
Matissenon-toxic, biodegradableMatisse Acrylic Paint
Chroma Ateliernon-toxicChroma Atelier Interactive Acrylic Paint

What are the different grades of acrylic paint? And are they toxic?

Professional, artist grade paint on the right, student grade on the left

The acrylic paint you buy commercially comes in two manufacturing grades:

  1. Artist Acrylics or Professional Acrylics

These are acrylic paints designed to avoid reacting with water, light, or air.

They have the most pigment, and this makes them easier to manipulate and shift when mixed with other colors or after drying.

Some colors need to be rich and offer high coverage, thus paint manufacturers add cadmium, cerulean or cobalt in the formulas.

  1. Student Acrylics

These are similar to artist acrylics.

Because they are manufactured to appeal to a smaller budget, student acrylics have a lower pigment concentration, less-expensive formulas, and fewer colors.

Acrylic paints fumes and airbrushing

More specifically, you have to be careful of harmful heavy metals that are released with the paint fumes. In small levels, the body can remove these toxins.

But over long periods of exposure, these toxins build up in the body and can lead to heavy metal poisoning.

Yet, it is more relevant to commercial painting than to our simple crafts at home.

With paint fumes, heavy metal poisoning manifests as difficulty in breathing and in severe cases–lung cancer and other respiratory problems.

At worst, the toxin build-up is fatal.

But if you take care when handling acrylic paint, they’re harmless. Compared to oil paints and thinners, regular acrylic paint has very low to no odor or fumes at all.

When health inspectors test how harmful the paint is to health, they will inspect the paint as if it’s used on the tip of the brush. These don’t consider how you’ll use the paint.

Will you be using an air spray? Or direct painting with your hands?

Because acrylic paint is made from chemicals, if you take some of it into your body through breathing or contact with an open wound, you’re getting intoxicated by the chemical ingredients in the paint you’re using.

With this in mind, airbrushing with acrylic paint has the highest chance of harming your health.

Do not ever spray any paints containing titanium dioxide (it is mostly white).

But this risk can be minimized if you wear protective gear like masks and gloves when using acrylic paints and an airbrush.

Read more: The Best Airbrush for Miniatures.

You still have to be mindful of the paint’s fumes when working with a regular brush, but once the paint dries up, it’s harmless.

Manufacturers will include warnings in their products that contain harmful substances.

Read more: Best Acrylic Paint: 21 Brands Reviewed for Beginners [From Cheap to Pro]

Is acrylic paint toxic to humans?

Read the labels carefully

Acrylic paint is toxic if you ingest it, breathe its fumes in, or have it in contact with your eyes or an open wound for a long time.

Good ventilation helps a lot to avoid inhaling fumes.

Depending on how paint makes contact with your body, you may experience some symptoms. Acrylic paint may give you a headache or some irritation.

Here are some acrylic paint poisoning symptoms:

  • Itchiness
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Trouble breathing
  • Light-headedness
  • Irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, or skin
  • In long perspective: nervous system damage, heavy metals accumulation.

Read on to learn more about how poisonous paint can be to the body.

Is acrylic paint toxic to breathe?

Depending on your tolerance, you might be put off by the scent of paint while it is drying or get shortness of breath.

Dry acrylic paint doesn’t release harmful fumes.

However, it’s a different story when you get the paint burnt.

It is not recommended to inhale sanded acrylic paint, sprayed paint, or burning paint.

Is burning acrylic paint toxic?

If you burn acrylic paint, you’ll be releasing more toxic fumes.

Some of the ingredients change drastically when burned. Moreover, fumes from carcinogens can increase the risk of cancer when exposed to them.

For example, Golden explains that if you burn cadmium-based pigments (temperature above 800C), it will release toxic fumes like cadmium oxide, zin oxide, sulfur dioxide, and selenium dioxide.

Read also: Is Paint Flammable or Combustible? Acrylic, Oil, Latex and Mediums Explained

But for normal-case uses, even beginner-friendly acrylic paint brands are harmless and don’t smell.

If they do smell bad, it might be a sign that the acrylic paint has already gone bad and should be disposed of properly.

Fun Fact: If you want to impress your friends, you can tell them that the carcinogenic fumes from paint are called VOCs (short for Volatile Organic Compounds).

What about painting it on my skin?

Some people like to paint with acrylics on their skin, but this isn’t ideal.

Relevant: Can You Put Acrylic Paint On Your Face & Body? 5 Safest Body Paint Included

For one, you’re not sure how your skin will react to the ingredients in the paint. Another problem comes from having harmful ingredients in contact with your skin.

You can argue that Victorian-era England is often associated with horror in pop culture due to the use of lead-based products as beauty remedies at the time (with horrific results).

There are more suitable types of paint to use in contact with bare skin. For example, the natural ink Henna or special face and body paints.

Is acrylic paint toxic to eat? is acrylic paint toxic if ingested?

Acrylic paint is not edible.

You might experience some stomach pain and indigestion problems when ingesting a considerable amount of paint particles.

If you’re working carefully, you won’t “accidentally” ingest some paint. You’ll only be taking in paint particles if you’re working with your bare hands.

If you accidentally swallowed paint, brands like Daler Rowney or Golden recommend rinsing your mouth or drinking at least 2 cups of water, but not forcing yourself to vomit.

Some pigments from your workspace can stick to food, and you won’t notice them visually. You’ll be able to taste the paint, so the contaminated food doesn’t usually end up in your stomach.

But it does take a huge amount of paint for your body to ring alarms that you’re eating something you’re not supposed to.

For water-based acrylic paint, it’s easy to wash them off your hands with soap and water. Make it a practice every time you’re painting to avoid problems.

Check out: Best Edible Markers for Cookies Decoration [Buyers Guide]

Is acrylic paint toxic to babies and kids?

Is acrylic paint toxic to babies and kids
Photo by Ana Klipper on Unsplash

An article in Time Magazine stated that acrylic paint is potentially toxic to vulnerable groups like pregnant women, young children, and the elderly.

In terms of physiology, young children might just be smelling paint for the first time.

Pregnant women and the elderly might also have a decreased sense of smell. These situations make them more prone to health risks from fumes.

Toddlers are the ones who are more likely to ingest paint, so having someone watch where they put their hands will help protect the child.

It is recommended to use acrylic paint with kids aged 3+ years.

In general, the health hazard of acrylic paint comes from its fumes and how sensitive you are when reacting to the paint.

Additionally, manufacturers will create non-toxic paint to appeal to a wider market (not to mention, state laws).

Non Toxic Paints safe for children

Instead of acrylic paint please use one of these paints with your toddlers and older kids:

  1. Finger paints – safest formula for hand and footprints and just fun painting session with no brushes involved.
  2. Activity paints and kits
  3. Washable tempera paints – super easy to use, to wash off and safe for kids (thus used a lot in schools and learning centers)
  4. Natural earth paints – eco-frinedly formula that is safe for kids and planet. All natural pigments, no harmful additives.

Is acrylic paint toxic to pets and animals?

Yes. Acrylic paint can be toxic to animals.

In the same way that people can get intoxicated from acrylic, your pets can also get poisoned if they inhale, ingest, or have direct contact with the paint.

Cats will be ok if they accidentally lick or get some on their fur some acrylic paint.

Pets with a stronger sense of smell (like dogs) are more likely to be harmed from inhaling the fumes. It’s no secret that some canines are used to smell explosives, so it would be more harmful to keep a dog around while painting.

Getting acrylic paint in contact with your pets doesn’t pose much of a health risk for them.

It’s more annoying grooming your pet dog, cat, or even hamster, back to being spotless when they accidentally get paint splattered on their coat.

However, this isn’t the case if you get paint dry on birds.

Because they use their feathers to move around, dry acrylic will make them fly harder. This is something to consider if you’re keeping a bird in a larger space.

If you keep a pet reptile, it will depend if it’s landlocked or prefers to be near water, like some iguanas. It’s easier to clean water-based paint off reptiles (well, depending on their temperament) as you can wash the paint off their scales. Water-dwelling reptiles can even do this on their own once they take a swim.

Some people are pet owners of frogs and toads. Tadpoles are the most likely to be affected if their water gets contaminated by paint, as it can kill them.

Fun Fact: Some amphibians breathe through their skin. So having paint on their bodies can be harmful to the animal.

The most practical way for you to keep your pets safe is to have a separate space for painting. 

There are cases where you might want to paint on your pet.

The most common would be using paw prints as part of your canvas.

If painting the animal can’t be avoided, look out for products with the following features:

  • low or no VOCs.
  • Petrochemical-free.

 And those that don’t have the following ingredients:

  • Acetone.
  • Ammonia.
  • Polyurethane.

These ingredients are harmful to animals and if you suspect the paint you’re using around your pet is harmful, look out for the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Hair loss.
  • Dizziness.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Gastrointestinal problems.

Is acrylic paint harmful to the environment?

The jury’s still out on that one. But these are just some of the harmful impacts of acrylic paint on the environment:

  • Ingredients in the paint can be harmful to animals.
  • Non-biodegradable components in paint contribute to pollution.
  • Paint particles ingested by animals can go up the food chain and end up in the plates of people.
  • Some pigments like Bone Black may actually contain carbonized cattle bones.
  • Some raw materials are still tested on animals as it is required by regulations to determine toxicity. Hopefully, it will change soon!

For instance, Winsor & Newton has switched to 100% recycled plastic for their packaging, aims to reduce hazardous wastes, and also offers cadmium-free formulas for oil and watercolor paints.

I hope acrylics are the next step!

Another market leader – Liquitex, as well reduces its carbon footprint, introduces cadmium-free alternatives, and reduces the microplastic footprint.

Is acrylic paint toxic to plants?

If you’re worrying that using acrylic can damage household plants, then it isn’t much of a problem.

In fact, in some cases, plants are used to treat areas polluted with heavy metals (which if you recall, are contained in some acrylic products).

Fun Fact: When plants are used to clean up our chemical mess, the process is called phytoremediation.

Moreover, the biology of plants helps them separate which products to store and separate from their bodies.

From a biological perspective, plants will only be harmed if the acrylic paint clogs their roots, as water couldn’t seep in.

Another one would be if their leaves got painted on their underside, as that’s where the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere enters the plant for photosynthesis.

Is acrylic paint plastic or produces microplastic?

Is acrylic paint plastic or produces microplastic
The plastic residue acrylic paint forms in the jars you wash off your brushes

Acrylic paint and coatings can be washed away by rain and end up in the ocean and they do produce microplastic.

You might have heard of microplastics being a problem in the oceans, right?

What you might not know is that a part of those microplastics is paint particles.

In a study published in 2021, paint debris and particles end up contributing to the microplastic problem, but they’re overlooked as part of the problem.

In fact, some sources say paint particles make up to 58% of all microplastic in ocean. Wow.

Paint is detected on trawls, the seafloor, and even within some aquatic animals. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that boats are the main contributors to this problem.

On your own, the impact of using acrylic paint on the environment isn’t significant.

However, if you look at the industry on a wider scale, then there might be an environmental problem.

An example of this would be paint sludge from the automotive industry.

Currently, manufacturers are finding and developing ways to make the paint more eco-friendly by finding environmental-friendly alternatives without compromising the quality of their current formulas.

As it stands, you won’t be able to find commercial paint that doesn’t use substances that are, in a way, harmful to the environment. 

If you’re worried about your impact on the environment, you can always go back to natural pigments and dyes to use with your canvas.

For example, milk paint combines milk and lime (add pigments of your choice for color), and earth paint uses only organic pigments.

Author Annie Berthold-Bond offers different recipes to create natural paint and dyes. Check out her book “Better Basics for the Home: Simple Solutions for Less Toxic Living“.

Why do manufacturers use hazardous materials when creating acrylic paint?

is acrylic paint toxic
some of the colors in Professional Winsor & Newton paint series make it clear – contains cadmium, do not spray

According to a 2021 paper published in the NCBI, paint producers use these ingredients for color development, creating premier classes of paint, and protecting surfaces from deterioration and corrosion.

It is true that rich pigments for professional oil and acrylic paints, like white, red and blue, are often made using harmful ingredients, but the trend is changing today.

“Biocides help prevent mold. And titanium dioxide is still the best whitening agent for paints and delivers high coverage and opacity”. 

Winsor & Newton, Liquitex.

Preservatives like Biocides are super important, without them the paint will go bad so fast after production and the microorganisms and bacteria will cause lots of damage, so we won’t be able to paint.

For the majority of people, biocides are harmless, but if you are sensitive to them, wear gloves.

There are many reasons why some acrylic paint products contain more harmful substances than others.

The most common ingredients that pose health risks are heavy metals (lead, cadmium, chromium, etc.), which are carcinogenic.

The paper included the following heavy metals which are among the priority hazardous metals of human health importance or are used as ingredients in paint.

Therefore, you should look out for the following compounds:

  1. Zinc (Zn).
  2. Lead (Pb).
  3. Nickel (Ni).
  4. Cobalt (Co).
  5. Arsenic (As).
  6. Copper (Cu).
  7. Mercury (Hg).
  8. Cadmium (Cd).
  9. Chromium (Cr), etc

A key takeaway from the paper is that “brunt umber” paint has considerable concentrations of heavy metals, while “scarlet” paint contains lower amounts.

The problem with heavy metals is that they can cause our cells to react abnormally and when too many cells were altered by the metals biologically, they become cancerous.

Hence, these ingredients are often called “carcinogenic” since they can lead to cancer.

Remember that there are 3 ingredients needed to create acrylic paint? In some cases, the ingredient isn’t a health hazard but can make the paint a health risk later.

In the case of Tamiya, instead of water, they use alcohol as the solvent. This causes some of their acrylics to be prone to lighting up in flames (of course, this depends on the type of environment where you’ll use the paint).

It’s always on a case-by-case basis.

In Europe, UK and US there are some strict regulations about hazardous ingredients in paints:

  • Titanium Dioxide TiO2 (Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008) – source
  • Biocides (CLP (Regulation (EC) No 1272/200) – source
  • BPR – Biocide Product Regulation- (Regulation (EU) ) 528/2012) – source
  • US standard ASTM D4236, the US Labeling of Hazardous Art Materials Act (LHAMA), and CPSIAs total lead (Institute’s Toxicological Advisory Board)
  • California’s Safe Drinking Water & Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986

If a paint contains more than 2.5 parts per million cadmium or zinc, and/or 10 parts per million lead, the brand should mention it on the label.  

Safety tips to follow when working with acrylics

  1. Always read the label to make sure the paint is safe
  2. Use gloves, goggles, barrier creams, and masks, especially if you have pre-existent skin or respiratory issues.
  3. Paint only in a well-ventilated area with no sources of flame. Open a window if possible.
  4. Do not let kids or pets in the room.
  5. To paint with children use only safe paints, preferably non-acrylic if your kids are too small.
  6. For airbrushing only use special thinned paint.
  7. Do not eat or apply acrylic paint to your skin
  8. Always wash your skin thoroughly with soapy water after a painting session. If you have stubborn stains of dried acrylic paint, remove acrylic paint with alcohol or nail polish.
  9. Use all the paint and try not to drain paint down the pipes.
  10. If you use paint with cadmium or other harmful components dispose of all cloths, rugs, and old brushes in separate bags with a hazardous label. Or follow your state guidelines.

The earliest precaution you should take with acrylics is by reading the label, and even SDS – safety data sheets online.

You need to see: “AP seal Certified Non-Toxic” or “Non-Toxic”, or EU certified non-toxic.

non toxic acrylic paint
Pebeo paints are non toxic acrylic paints and you can see on their label – Conforms to ASTM

Protective gear and ventilation should also be taken up as a precaution when working with acrylic paint. Do not spray your paints if they have any dangerous toxic chemicals.

Products you purchase should indicate their ingredients and highlight any toxic substances or hazardous additives used in creating the product.

Additionally, they are required to provide instructions in the event of poisoning.

More often, you should look for ACMI-certified products.

The Art & Creative Materials Institute seal indicates that the product has undergone a thorough evaluation by a board-certified toxicologist and follows federal labeling laws.

Read more: Is Paint Flammable or Combustible?

Regardless if you’re aiming for professional grade acrylics or student grade, always look for a product safety seal as some cheap acrylic paints might contain toxic substances that they don’t include on the label.

Be on the lookout for brands that are reported to include harmful ingredients or are tagged by the

Consumer Product Safety Commission as not safe for the public. If a brand isn’t familiar to you, check out official product safety websites from the government.

Though most of these brands are “non-toxic”, always use protective gear when working with acrylics.

For your hands, any glove will work. But it’s recommended to use nitrile gloves to prevent irritation from the paint. Some brands that sell well-reviewed nitrile gloves include:

You can also use barrier creams to protect the skin on the hands.

Masks will also help avoid fumes from accidentally being inhaled. You don’t need to go as far as purchase a respirator unless you are working with epoxy. These simple face masks from Honeywell will do.

If you like working with abstracts and creating a lot of splashes, use protective glasses or goggles and make sure they fit tight!

Things to Consider When Painting with Acrylic

Will you paint on a canvas? Or on a different surface? Are you painting with a brush or using another method?

Depending on your painting process, you’ll have different considerations with the acrylic paint you’re using.

Read more: Is Acrylic Paint Washable on Skin, Fabric, Clothes, Walls, Wood, etc.?

  1. Well ventilated room

A general consideration would be painting in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling more fumes.

Though you don’t have to wear masks when brushing paint with acrylic, you’d want to wear protective gear to protect your eyes and skin.

2. Temperature

Temperature is another consideration when working with acrylics.

Most water-based acrylic paint isn’t flammable, but oil-based, and alcohol-based paints can be. That’s why it’s also ideal to work at room temperature.

The same can be said if you’re working in a colder environment. Ideally, you wouldn’t want to go any lower than 49°F or 9°C which is the “minimum film formation” temperature (MFFT) of acrylics.

What this simply means is that, if you work below that temperature, the ingredients that make up the acrylic will begin to become prone to failures like cracks, cloudiness, and poor adhesion.

Other types of acrylic like can become finicky to work with in some temperatures. For example,  Crackle Paint should cure between 65-75°F or 18-24°C.

The product label outlines the best way to use the paint.

3. Painting technique

Your painting technique is another consideration when working with acrylic. A rule of thumb – do not airbrush paints with cadmium.

Acrylic paint dries on canvas quickly, so its fumes don’t pose much of a problem. Unless you want to keep the paint from drying out, you can spray a mist of water over the canvas.

Read also: How Long Does Acrylic Paint Take to Dry? 30 Brands Drying Time

If you want the paint to be more fluid, you just add more medium to it. You can add water if it’s water-based, oil, or alcohol depending on the specific product.

You might want to do this to glaze and wash your artwork. The problem with this is you might get more of the paint on your body. This is only a problem if the paint irritates the skin.

Perhaps the pour painting technique is something you should look out for. As its name implies, you’ll be using a lot of acrylics in the process.

So you have to deal with more fumes or getting into contact with the paint as well as pouring mediums, and even epoxy to protect the painting.

Read more: 25 Must-Known Acrylic Painting Techniques

What do I do if I react to acrylic paint strongly?

If you experience some dizziness and light headaches, it’s usually because you’re reacting to the fumes. This usually means that you’ve worked long enough to feel the effects of the fumes on your body.

Taking a break and airing out your lungs can help solve this problem.

Moreover, if acrylic paint makes your skin itchy, most acrylic paint can be washed away with water. For added measure, use soap when washing paint off your body.

If the paint was in contact with your eye, rinse thoroughly for 15 minutes with water.

The last piece of advice if you’re body keeps on reacting negatively to the paint is to consult a doctor.

Acrylic Paint Non Toxic List

Most acrylic paint is non toxic for use.

However there are some brands that specifically make Cadmium free colors that normally use cadmium as it is probably an ingredient causing most worries.

  1. Liquitex has cadmium-free colors in Heavy Body, Soft Body and Acrylic Gouache: orange, red light, red medium, yellow light and yellow medium.
  2. Utrecht Cadmium-free line – cadmium-free lemon yellow, yellow deep, yellow light, yellow medium, orange, red deep, red light, red medium

FAQ Section

Here are some of the most common questions people ask about acrylic paint:

Are acrylic paint fumes toxic?

Over time, yes, the fumes from acrylic paint are toxic. Different individuals will have different tolerances to the fumes. But the longer you’re exposed to the fumes, the more likely you are to build up toxins in your body.

Does acrylic paint have lead?

Even though the concentration of the lead today is very low and not dangerous in acrylic paint, some acrylics still contain lead. Liquitex stated that they use lead concentration lower than in daily make-up approved by FDA (under 1ppm lead if I’m not mistaken)

Is Liquitex acrylic paint non toxic?

Liquitex acrylic paint has passed non toxic certification for painting however it does contain very very low levels of cadmium, cobalt, even lead and some other elements. Liquitex has safe levels of these components unless you ingest it in big volume.

How toxic is acrylic paint?

Acrylic paint is not toxic and safe to use for adult painters. The toxic levels even if present are extremely low (lower than in some cosmetics or household items) and can only be dangerous if you will swallow them or inhale or burn. For regular painter a good acrylic paint is non toxic and safe to use for its main purpose – painting.

Can acrylic paint cause cancer?

No, but it depends on how you work with acrylic. When you work with acrylic paint that contains heavy metals more often, you might develop symptoms of cancer.

For example, this study assessing heavy metals in face paint on Chinese opera actors identified Zinc as the most common heavy metal ingredient.

Moreover, when it comes to colors; brown, black, red, and green paints contain higher heavy metal levels. In regular acrylics, cadmium is one of the most cancerogenic components.

The problem with heavy metals is that they become carcinogenic to the body when exposed to high levels. In particular, the same study identified chromium in face paints to pose the highest health risk as a carcinogenic ingredient.

But we, simple painters and crafters, don’t really get to be exposed to such high levels.

Toxic fumes can get into the body quickly without protection, so checking on your respiratory health is recommended for long-time acrylic painters.

Can acrylic paint cause headaches?

The fumes from acrylic paint can cause dizziness, headaches, and nausea.

This is especially true for acrylic paints, which have special formulations and additives. Examples of those additives include heavy metals during manufacturing.

How do you know if acrylic paint is toxic?

Check the product description.

If the paint contains hazardous ingredients like heavy metals, it’s advised not to get the paint in direct contact with your skin and eyes.

Additionally, look for the stamp of recognized bodies in your area. This can be a government body. In the case of art products from the US, ACMI.

Can acrylic paint cause allergic reactions?

Yes. But this is a rare occurrence.

The most common allergic reaction is allergic contact dermatitis, which causes itching and burning sensations in the area where the paint touches your body.

Your hands and fingers will most likely show these symptoms if you’re allergic.

Acrylic or oil paints are not the best choice for finger painting, use poster or tempera finger paint instead.

What should I do when I’m allergic to acrylic paint?

Always use protective gear when working with acrylics.

Moreover, avoid inhaling the fumes as they can cause respiratory problems if you’re allergic.

Wearing a mask or working in a well-ventilated area can help you reduce the problem with paint fumes.

You should seek the advice of a dermatologist and an allergologist to check how severe you’ll react to acrylic paint and ask them which ingredients to look out for when buying paint.

Wrapping It Up

Is acrylic paint toxic? Yes, with an asterisk.

Though manufacturers will have to get a seal of approval from the appropriate bodies, a “non-toxic” label on the product doesn’t completely erase its risks to your health.

Depending on the ingredients, manufacturers have to use more hazardous ingredients to create paint for a specific purpose.

This is a problem for you, your pets, and, quite possibly, the environment.

Beginners will be fine purchasing student-grade acrylics from a local art store. But once you begin to expand your skills, you’ll also have to upgrade your kit and deal with more of these risks.

As you continue to become a professional painter, always look back to the basics of protecting yourself: “Don’t inhale, don’t ingest, and don’t get that paint on your skin.”

Please also keep in mind that while painting you are not only interact with paint, but with mediums and varnishes which can be toxic.

So, are you ready to take your painting skills to the next level? Then let’s do some painting!

Read also: How to Paint with Acrylics on Canvas: 3 Essential Steps [Supplies included]