A: Certain sticks of soft pastel contain toxic lead and cadmium so some precautions are necessary. Before I begin working, I liberally apply a barrier cream, called Artguard, to my hands and wrists so that pastel will not be absorbed through my skin via small cuts that I might have. I wear a surgical mask to avoided breathing the dust. Also, I try to work so that my hand is below my head, to lessen the likelihood of breathing particles of pastel as they fall to the floor. I ensure there is good air circulation in my studio. Once the dust has settled onto the floor, I try not to stir it up again until I dispose of it. I’ve been working with soft pastel for 27 years and have managed to stay healthy so far.
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