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  1. I recently started working with a new black-firing clay body that I developed through trial and error. It contains about about %45 "Barnard Clay", which is a black clay body that I believe contains about %8-9 Manganese Oxide. I have been working with this clay body for about 4-6 months ~20-30 hours a week in the studio. (or at least I try my best for that range) My habits in controlling the dust have ranged from just okay to perhaps foolish. This is due to the massive amount of stress graduate school has been putting on me. This is no excuse - and I'm now focusing on improving this. Anyways,I sculpt large forms with this new black clay- manipulating big mounds of the clay with my entire body. Needless to say, this makes quite a big mess. I don't usually see excessive amounts of dust but It can sometimes happen, maybe once a week or so, when I drop a wooden slab down on a canvas table in my ventilated studio, etc. There have even been a couple times after doing something like that where I actually felt like I could taste the dust in the air very briefly... After learning about the toxic qualities of manganese last night, I was sent into a somewhat state of panic. I know my studio practice needs a lot of work in terms of cleanliness and care - so I'm very worried that I've already exposed myself to too much manganese (several months of stupidity). So I have to ask - how bad have I potentially screwed myself up? I've decided that once I finish my current project (couple more weeks) that I will abandon any materials with Manganese entirely while simultaneously improving my personal protection and cleaning behaviors. I should add that my work has mostly been fired in our studio's Blauww kilns, which ventilate the bisque firings very well. I'm writing this because I'm 29 years old and my little brother recently passed, so mortality has been a topic on my mind lately. It feels very important now more than ever that I live a long and healthy life. This undoubtedly is adding quite a bit to my anxiety on this matter. I know that these are probably questions better directed towards an occupational health professional - but since I don't have that resource at the moment, I thought I'd reach out to professionals in my current field and seek advice/info on the matter. With all the doom and gloom I've been reading regarding MnO, I can't seem to find a source of info anymore that feels reliable. Any helpful words would be greatly appreciated! Thanks

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