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The Natural Child by ProQuest


Sculpting and modeling are other activities that can pose health hazards unless the right materials are used. Polymer "clay" is a popular, brightly colored, sculptable material sold in craft, hobby and art stores and widely used by artists, hobbyists and children. Polymer clay products are based on the polymer polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and contain various color pigments and liquid plasticizers such as phthalates, which keep it soft and workable until it's cured. Phthalates as a class of chemicals have been implicated in birth defects, reproductive problems, nerve system damage and other negative health effects and are being removed from a variety of products by their manufacturers.Another common and popular craft activity is making pottery. There are also many "paint a pot" businesses that provide white bisqueware for children to decorate and then fire. Sometimes, these studios encourage parents to dip their children's feet or hands in paint, then transfer the imprint onto a decorative tile. As any professional potter will tell you, many of the glazes contain metal or metal oxides, including nickel, barium, cadmium, cobalt, copper and zinc. So children should use non-toxic acrylic and tempera-based paints to decorate their pottery, rather than glazes. When these metals are heated in a kiln, the fumes can be toxic so children should not work in a facility that houses kilns. Clay dust is also problematic, especially for those who already have asthma, so if children are going to create original pottery, they should work with wet clay only.Instant papier-mch is another problematic material. It is advertised as having all the properties of the "real thing" but with no newspapers to cut up and no flour or wheat paste to buy or mess around with. Aside from the fact that art isn't supposed to be about instant gratification, some brands can, according to the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, contain asbestos fibers and lead from pigments in colored

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