Is Acrylic Paint Toxic? Unraveling the Truth

Bob Thomas


As a qualified painter and decorator, I've had my fair share of experience working with various types of paint, including acrylics.

Acrylic paint is a versatile and popular choice among artists, DIY enthusiasts, and homeowners alike.

But, with its popularity, concerns about its potential toxicity have also arisen.

In this article, we'll explore whether acrylic paint is toxic and what precautions you can take to ensure safe use.

Quick Summary

Acrylic paint is generally considered 1) non-toxic; however, some paints 2) may contain harmful substances. To ensure safety, 3) choose paints with the AP (Approved Product) seal, 4) avoid ingesting paint or inhaling fumes, and follow 5) proper disposal guidelines.

Understanding Acrylic Paint Composition

Acrylic paint is a water-based paint made from a combination of pigment, acrylic polymer emulsion, and various additives.

These additives can include preservatives, stabilizers, and other chemicals to enhance the paint's performance.

  1. Pigments: Acrylic paint pigments are typically non-toxic and made from organic or inorganic compounds. However, some pigments, such as lead or cadmium, can be toxic if ingested or inhaled in large amounts.
  2. Acrylic Polymer Emulsion: This is the main component of acrylic paint and is generally considered non-toxic. The emulsion is a water-soluble binder that holds the paint together and helps it adhere to surfaces.
  3. Additives: Some additives, such as formaldehyde or ammonia, can cause irritation if inhaled or if they come into contact with skin or eyes.

Important: Always read the label of your acrylic paint to check for any potentially harmful ingredients.

Safety Measures When Using Acrylic Paint

While acrylic paint is generally considered non-toxic, it's essential to take precautions to ensure safe use:

  1. Choose paints with the AP (Approved Product) seal: This seal indicates that the paint has been independently tested and found to be non-toxic.
  2. Ventilation: Make sure to work in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling fumes or dust from the paint.
  3. Protective gear: Wear gloves, a mask, and protective clothing if you're working with potentially harmful pigments or additives.
  4. Avoid ingestion: Never eat, drink, or smoke while working with acrylic paint, and wash your hands thoroughly after use.
  5. Proper disposal: Follow your local guidelines for disposing of acrylic paint, as it can be harmful to the environment if not disposed of correctly.

Is Acrylic Paint Safe for Kids?

Acrylic paint is generally safe for kids to use, provided you choose non-toxic, water-based acrylics with the AP seal.

However, it's crucial to supervise children when they're using paint to ensure they don't ingest it or get it in their eyes.

Personal Experiences

I worked on a mural project with a group of kids, and we used non-toxic acrylic paints with the AP seal.

The project turned out fantastic, and everyone had a great time without any safety concerns.

So, go ahead and unleash your creativity with acrylic paints, but always stay mindful of safety precautions!

Frequently  Asked Questions Section (FAQs)

Q. Are acrylic paints safe for use on skin or for body painting?

  A: Acrylic paints are not specifically formulated for use on skin and may cause irritation or an allergic reaction.

It's best to use body paint or face paint, which are designed for safe use on skin.

Q. Can I use acrylic paint on surfaces that come into contact with food?

  A: Acrylic paint should not be used on surfaces that come into contact with food. Instead, choose food-safe paints or sealants specifically formulated for such purposes.

Q. Is it safe to use acrylic paint on pet toys or accessories?

  A: It's best to avoid using acrylic paint on pet toys or accessories, as pets may chew on them and ingest the paint. Opt for pet-safe paints or materials instead.

Q. Can acrylic paint contaminate groundwater if not disposed of properly?

  A: Yes, improper disposal of acrylic paint can contaminate groundwater and harm the environment. It's essential to follow local guidelines for disposing of paint waste.

Q. Are there any eco-friendly or non-toxic alternatives to traditional acrylic paints?

  A: Yes, there are eco-friendly and non-toxic alternatives available, such as natural or plant-based paints.

Look for products with certifications or labels indicating their eco-friendly or non-toxic nature.


Acrylic paint is widely regarded as non-toxic, making it a popular choice for artists and DIY enthusiasts alike.

However, it's essential to be mindful of the paint's composition and any potential harmful ingredients.

By choosing non-toxic paints, following safety precautions, and properly disposing of paint waste, you can enjoy working with acrylics without worrying about their potential toxicity.

Suggested Products:

Odorless and Non-toxic Acrylic Paints: Golden OPEN Acrylics are formulated with minimal odor and reduced toxicity, making them an excellent choice for those concerned about the potential risks of traditional acrylic paints. They provide a safer painting experience without compromising on performance.

Low-VOC Acrylic Mediums: Liquitex Professional Low-Odor Acrylic Mediums help minimize toxicity by emitting fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These mediums provide the same benefits as traditional acrylic mediums, such as enhancing paint performance, while lowering potential health risks.

Natural or Plant-based Paints: Earth Pigments Natural Earth Paint Kit offers eco-friendly and non-toxic paint options derived from natural earth pigments. This kit allows artists to create vibrant and beautiful artwork without worrying about the harmful effects of traditional acrylic paints.

Non-toxic Paint Sealants: Mod Podge Waterbase Sealer is a non-toxic and food-safe sealant that protects painted surfaces from damage and wear. This sealant ensures that your artwork remains vibrant and safe, especially when used on surfaces that may come into contact with food.

Face and Body Paints: Snazaroo Face Paint is a water-based, non-toxic, and hypoallergenic paint designed specifically for use on the skin. It's a safe and fun alternative to acrylic paint for creating body art or face painting designs.

Pet-safe Paints: Pawsitively Safe Pet Paint is a non-toxic and water-based paint designed specifically for use on pet accessories or toys. This paint allows you to create colorful and personalized items for your pets without worrying about their safety.

Non-toxic Paint Disposal Containers: The Paint Puck Paint Waste Solidifier provides an eco-friendly solution for disposing of leftover paint. Simply add the solidifier to your paint waste, and it will turn the liquid into a solid, non-hazardous substance that can be safely thrown away.

About the author 

Bob Thomas

A fully certified interior decorator and house painter , Bob Thomas brings immense expertise and knowledge amassed from many years of hands-on experience with residential, commercial and specialty painting and decorating projects of all sizes and scopes.

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