Many of the CLEAPSS guidance MRATs listed here, make reference to several materials and not just the material they are listed underneath. Teachers need to ensure they look at all the relevant guidance when consider using any of these materials in the classroom and to inform their Risk Assessments.

Volatile Substances

Solvents are generally highly volatile and toxic substances. They constitute the most common source of hazardous fumes in art and craft processes. Users of solvents or media containing solvents should find out exactly what they are and what they contain. This information is obtainable from the manufacturer or supplier.

CLEAPSS guidance - MRAT - 161 - Solvents used in painting, spraying and printmaking

CLEAPSS guidance - MRAT - 069 - Solvent-Based Liquid Paints

Skin Irritants

Some solvents are primary skin irritants. Others may produce dermatitis and, by dissolving the natural grease of the skin, make it more vulnerable to damage by other substances.

CLEAPSS guidance - MRAT - 094 - Cleaning Solvents


Inhalation is the most common way in which toxic materials can enter the body. It is therefore very important that inhalation of solvent vapours is kept to a minimum. If work with solvents is carried out regularly, or on a large scale, appropriate means of ventilation must be installed.


Tetrachloromethane (eg, carbon tetrachloride), although non-flammable, is highly toxic by inhalation, in contact with skin or if swallowed,  and should not be used.

CLEAPSS guidance - MRAT - 155 - Painting & Drawing

Propanone (Acetone)

Propanone is one of the least toxic solvents, but it is highly flammable and should be used with extreme care.

CLEAPSS guidance - MRAT - 100 - Flammable Liquids


Turpentine is neither highly toxic nor highly flammable, but it can be a primary skin irritant and possibly produce allergic reactions.

CLEAPSS guidance - MRAT - 183 - Cleaning Brushes


Aerosols present a considerable hazard, due to the presence of probably toxic and flammable solvents and other substances. They should be avoided if possible, but otherwise only used in a well-ventilated specialist area. They should never be used when other people are near.

CLEAPSS guidance - MRAT - 068 - Solvent-Based Aerosol Paints