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Are Dry Erase Markers Toxic?

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Dry erase markers replaced chalk several years ago and are used in all sorts of places. Teachers use them every day. Restaurants write with them on menu signs. Office meetings wouldn’t be complete without using the tool to write notes on a whitebars. 

They come in a variation of colors and their smell is very familiar. But have you ever stopped to wonder if dry erase markers are toxic?

Expo dry erase markers are said to be non-toxic. However they contain a solvent called Xylene which gives off its strong smell. If the markers ink it ingested then it may be harmful but it isn’t toxic for everyday use.

Markers need solvents to write on surfaces. These solvents carry the ink to the surface and then evaporate leaving behind only the ink. Dry erase markers are made using less harsh solvents making them less toxic. 

However, the fumes you smell when the dry erase marker is opened is very strong. Water-based ones aren’t as strong smelling as chemical based ones. 

Today, companies who make dry erase markers have started making them with “low odor” by using denatured alcohol. Yet with all of these innovations, the markers still contain a solvent which evaporates into the air as it is used to write on a whiteboard. 

Sometimes the fumes emitted by dry erase markers can cause dizziness or even headaches.

The ink of these markers can be absorbed into porous surfaces such as your skin or clothing and there will be a little bit of chemical compounds left behind. There aren’t enough of these chemical compounds to qualify as being hazardous to your health and that’s why marker manufacturers today are able to say they are non-toxic. 

The powdery substance that can be blown into the air after erasing dry erase marks on a whiteboard could potentially get into your eyes or you may accidentally ingest it and this may cause some health risks. Don’t wipe the ink off of the whiteboard with your hands.

It is also best to wash your hands after using dry erase markers just to be careful. 

What Is In A Dry Erase Marker?  

You have probably used dry erase markers so many times that you don’t think about if they are toxic or not. Most of us just pick one of the colored markers up, pop off the cap and start writing on the whiteboard without stopping to ask ourselves some simple questions. 

Have you ever wondered why the marker smells so strongly? Even though today they make dry erase with less harmful chemicals, what is actually in them?

A dry erase marker contains color pigment, a chemical solvent and a polymer or release agent.

When writing on a whiteboard with a dry erase maker, the ink glides smoothly on and the solvent evaporates leaving behind the ink. The difference between dry erase and permanent markers is the kind of polymer. Permanent makers use acrylic while dry erase has an oily silicone polymer. 

Dry erase boards also have a static charge which makes the ink stick to them.

The reason why dry erase markers don’t stick permanently to the whiteboard is that its polymer won’t bind with the surface. Its oily silicone polymer acts as a barrier to prevent the ink from sticking to the surface. 

Dry erase markers can only be used on non-porous surfaces and can reality be wiped away from a fresh set of scribbles.

Are Dry Erase Markers Harmful?  

The chemicals in some dry erase markers may be harmful to your health however just using them normally shouldn’t cause any issues. 

It is said though that prolonged exposure to dry erase markers may result in irritation of the eyes, nose and throat and is also associated with neurological, liver, kidney and respiratory problems. It can also cause central nervous system depression, headaches, dizziness, nauseous and other problems. 

Knowing all of this and how dry erase markers could be harmful and toxic, buy markers that are ASTM D-4236 Standards. These markers have passed several tests proving they do not contain any material in high amounts that would be toxic to humans. 

So the markers with this imprinted on them are said to be non-toxic and safe to use. 

Dry erase markers can be harmful if too much of its chemicals are received into the body or absorbed into the bloodstream. They contain Xylene and that’s what gives off that strong smell. 

The plastic covering of a dry erase marker is made of plastic which does not decompose well. So dry erase markers are possibly harmful to the environment as well. 

If you are concerned about this point of view, you can purchase PIlot V Board Master refillable dry erase markers as well.

Are Dry Erase Markers Safe For Kids? 

We’ve all had fun in school getting to come up to the board and write the answers to math problems or other educational questions. In fact, dry erase markers are used around kids in school all the time. 

Because of this, some parents may start to worry about the health risks involved. Are these markers safe for kids to use?

It isn’t safe for kids to be around the chemicals emitted by some dry erase markers for long periods of time. However, Expo has said that their makers are non-toxic because they don’t have enough chemicals in them to be harmful.

It is said though, that prolonged exposure to the markers may result in irritation of the eyes, nose and throat and is also associated with neurological, liver, kidney and respiratory problems. It also causes central nervous system depression, headaches, dizziness, nausea and other problems. 

If you are concerned about the toxic level that dry erase markers may  have, consider purchasing Modern Twist Markers which are proven to be non-toxic.

By making sure your kids don’t sniff the maker, put it in their mouths or write on their skin, you are well on your way to protecting them from possible harm. Remember that today the manufacturers of dry erase markers use less chemical solvents in their markers than they used to. 

So one would have to inhale, ingest, or write on their skin a lot for their body to absorb a lot of the chemicals. However it is not a bad idea to be careful especially when it comes to your child’s safety.

Final Thoughts 

Dry erase markers are used in many places including schools, churches, offices, restaurants or even at home. Dry erase markers are said to be non-toxic but they may contain chemicals that are toxic. 

Sometimes they can cause headaches and other health conditions. When a child is using a dry erase marker it is best that it is used infrequently and with supervision. 

Dry erase markers today are made with less of the harmful solvents making the quality as non-toxic.

Matthew R

Hi, My name is Matt and I am all about toys! When trying to find accurate information online about toys I was finding it difficult so I decided to make this site.

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