A Guide to Safe Practice in Art & Design

7.12   Plaster of Paris

When mixed with water, this material hardens and then slowly becomes hot. Temperatures as high as 60 degrees centigrade can be reached. Skin damage can result at much lower temperatures, perhaps as low as 45 degrees centigrade, if contact is prolonged.

Making a cast enclosing any part of the body using this material is potentially very dangerous, particularly if the thickness of the cast exceeds a few millimetres. As a rule of thumb, if a decision to make a cast is made despite this clear warning, use no more than two layers of scrim impregnated with plaster, e.g. ModRoc.

Failure to follow this guidance can cause severe burns that may require surgical removal of affected tissue or amputation of digits or a limb.

Direct, prolonged or repeated contact with the skin may cause irritation and attempts at removal can result in abrasions. Rinse with water until free of material to avoid abrasions, then wash skin thoroughly with mild soap and water.

If Plaster of Paris is in contact with eyes, first rinse with plenty of water for several minutes (remove contact lenses if easily possible), then take to a doctor.

Plaster of Paris dust needs to be controlled as it is an irritant that can cause breathing difficulties that are usually mild.

To download guidelines on the use of Plaster of Paris follow this link LINK