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Occupational Health and the Visual Arts: An Introduction

Hinkamp, David MD, MPH; McCann, Michael PhD, CIH; Babin, Angela R. MS, LMSW

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: September 2017 - Volume 59 - Issue 9 - p 859–866
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001079
Original Articles

Objective: Occupational hazards in the visual arts often involve hazardous materials, though hazardous equipment and hazardous work conditions can also be found. Occupational health professionals are familiar with most of these hazards and are particularly qualified to contribute clinical and preventive expertise to these issues.

Methods: Articles illustrating visual arts health issues were sought and reviewed. Literature sources included medical databases, unindexed art-health publications, and popular press articles.

Results: Few medical articles examine health issues in the visuals arts directly, but exposures to pigments, solvents, and other hazards found in the visual arts are well described. The hierarchy of controls is an appropriate model for controlling hazards and promoting safer visual art workplaces.

Conclusions: The health and safety of those working in the visual arts can benefit from the occupational health approach. Sources of further information are available.

Health in the Arts Program, University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, Chicago, Illinois (Dr Hinkamp); CPWR The Center for Construction Research and Training, Silver Spring, Maryland (Dr McCann); and The Actors Fund of America, New York, New York (Ms Babin).

Address correspondence to: David Hinkamp, MD, MPH, 4071 N. Broadway, Suite #1, Chicago, IL 60613-2117 (

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2017 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine