November 20, 2009

Is Non-Toxic the Best We Can Do for Our Children? ~ Diana Mercer of Clementine Art.

Healthy Living Tips for Children.

By Diana Mercer, founder Clementine Art.

During a tot’s art class at my children’s art studio in Boulder, Colorado, a parent discovered that her toddler had placed a green paintbrush in her mouth, much like a lollipop. We both flinched as the paint smeared around her little girl’s lips, coating the inside of her mouth.

Springing to action, we rinsed and wiped her daughter clean. This mother turned to me with a worried look and asked,

“Is this really ok?”

“Our paint is non-toxic,” I replied.

For more than 20 years as a teacher, I have understood that non-toxic is as good as it gets for children’s art supplies. The label “non-toxic” means that a product is not related to any toxin or poison—it will not kill anyone. For many years, The American National Standards Institute (ASTM) has certified that art supplies meet non-toxicity standard ASTM D-4236 and that any toxins will be clearly listed on the label.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission:

Parents and others buying art materials, school supplies and toys such as crayons, paint sets, or modeling clay should be alert and purchase only those products which are accompanied by the statement “Conforms to ASTM D-4236.”

Like many people, I have become concerned about our environment and more aware of health issues as they relate to my food, cosmetics and many other consumer choices. I buy organics when I can, bring grocery bags to the store with me, and ride my bike instead of getting in the car so often.

After the paint-in-the-mouth incident, I felt besieged by unanswered questions about what children’s paint is made of. Why aren’t the ingredients on the label?! The colors, odor, and seemingly infinite shelf life of children’s paint made me wonder what kind of chemicals, synthetic dyes, and preservatives were contained in my “non-toxic” bottle of paint.

As a consumer, I’m concerned by news that widely distributed toys from China were discovered to contain excess levels of lead paint; that a ubiquitous children’s dough is reportedly made using a petroleum base; and that art materials contain synthetic dyes that have been linked to a wide variety of health issues in children including allergies, ADHD, and a variety of cancers.

I love art, and children. As an art teacher, I want to provide children with safer choices. On my short list, I’d like a product that is made with natural ingredients that I can pronounce. I’d like to purchase them from a company that is honest enough to list their ingredients right on the package. I want art materials that are safe for children, and the environment.

And so—not seeing what I wanted for my children and students on retail shelves, I resolved to do it myself. Clementine Art was founded on the principle that we can do better for children. Our high quality art supplies are made with environmentally-friendly, natural ingredients, certified non-toxic. Clementine packaging is made of 100% post consumer recycled and reusable materials.

Clementine Art founder Diana Mercer has more than 20 years experience in the early childhood and art education classroom, Diana Mercer has developed a deep respect for children, and for the role of creative exploration in healthy child development.

This article is adapted from a previous article in LOHAS Journal.

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