Polymer Clay Safety
Many are concerned with Polymer Clay safety. Does Polymer Clay release harmful fumes?
When baking the polymer clay certain smells are emitted and it has caused some controversy. They are generally concerned about the long-term effects of exposure to the phthalate esters used as plasticizers to keep the clay soft and workable until curing.
The Arts & Crafts Materials Institute in Boston has tested the major brands of polymer clay and states that they comply with the ASTM D-4236 standard for polymer clay safety and of arts and crafts materials specified by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
A study conducted at Duke University Health System summarized the toxicology, metabolism and pharmacokinetics of the phthalate esters used in polymer clay formulations and evaluated contamination rates during laboratory simulations and use by professional artists.
The study found actual transfer rates to skin, food, and mouth to be lower than expected and ingestion rates significantly below established Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) for all phthalate esters tested.
Restrictions on use of certain phthalates take effect in 2009 in the European Union and in the U.S. state of California. Polymer clays are being reformulated with less toxic plasticizers to meet the new standards.
It is known that incorrectly curing polymer clay by baking it at a temperature higher than that recommended by the manufacturer can produce fumes which may be harmful. However, correctly curing the clay, while it will produce an odor, will not produce harmful fumes.
Hazardous decomposition happens at 350 degrees F +.*
Although polymer clay has been determined as a safe artist material, be sure to take extra precautions just to be safe. The extent you wish to take your polymer clay safety is entirely up to you.
Doll says "Owning an oven specifically to use when baking polymer clay is a precaution many people take. This way, if they accidentally burn the polymer clay, the fumes are not contained within the same oven you cook with. Also, this ensures that no polymer clay residue is left on the trays or walls of the oven you cook in."
Taking polymer clay safety into account even with little things like keeping fresh wipes by your table so you can wipe your hands can be really easy. It can become habitual and not much of a bother at all.
So take things into your own hands and take simple precautions. It may make a difference in the long haul.
*some information quoted from from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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