Arlington County schools will stop using turpentine, epoxy glue and several art supplies that may be hazardous and will restrict use of some art materials to secondary students, school officials announced yesterday.
Superintendent Arthur W. Gosling said school staff members reviewed the purchase and use of art supplies because of a consumer group's report last month that at least 47 hazardous art and craft products were on the supply lists of area school systems.
That report, conducted by the Washington-based U.S. Public Interest Research Group, said toxic art supplies, including some that contain cancer-causing agents, were routinely purchased by area schools even though safe substitutes are available.
"The physical safety of our children is our paramount concern," Gosling said yesterday. "Every precaution will be taken to remove potentially harmful substances from their school environment."
He said Arlington schools will stop using spray enamel paint, will use a turpentine substitute and will buy water-based white glue and water-based inks instead of epoxy glue and solvent-based inks. In addition, only secondary students will be allowed to use cold water dyes, shellac, rubber cement, permanent markers, acrylic paints and photographic chemicals.
School spokeswoman Margaret Heckard said school officials do not know how much it will cost to discard any materials in storage. "Obviously, whatever [the cost] is, we're going to do it," she said.