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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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Not to minimize the danger, but a lot of people worked their entire lives around manganese fumes/dust and very few developed the horrific permanent nervous system issues traditionally associated with it.  Point being, its not an instant death sentence, and thats coming from someone who really once thought it more or less was.

Also manganese isnt water soluble, it cant be absorbed through the skin (according to an employee of Aardvark I reached out to about these exact concerns).  

Do what is needful to work with it responsibly from now on, but its extremely unlikely you've lit the fuse on any neurological time bombs already.

GiselleNo5 and Min like this

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If you are loosing sleep over it then you could always request some blood work be done to test for Mn.  

Edited by Min

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On ‎10‎/‎4‎/‎2017 at 12:16 AM, Lucas Pizza said:

After learning about the toxic qualities of manganese last night, I was sent into a somewhat state of panic.
 

My big questions is WHERE did you learn about the toxic qualities of manganese?  Let's start there to see if what you learned is accurate.

best,

....................john

D.M.Ernst and Min like this

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On 10/4/2017 at 8:28 AM, dhPotter said:

No matter what kind of clay you use - get rid of the canvas. Use cement board, the stuff used for tiled showers.

This is a good idea. My peer students and I have been requesting cement board and vinyl tables for our studios for safety reasons.  Can't say we'll ever get them. I'll have to look into replacing my canvas. Thanks for the tip. 

 

22 hours ago, mousey said:

Not to minimize the danger, but a lot of people worked their entire lives around manganese fumes/dust and very few developed the horrific permanent nervous system issues traditionally associated with it.  Point being, its not an instant death sentence, and thats coming from someone who really once thought it more or less was.

Also manganese isnt water soluble, it cant be absorbed through the skin (according to an employee of Aardvark I reached out to about these exact concerns).  

Do what is needful to work with it responsibly from now on, but its extremely unlikely you've lit the fuse on any neurological time bombs already.

 Thank you for your thoughts.  I've read that the fumes are the primary concern - and all of our kilns are outside. Most of my firings have been in a well ventilated Blauww kiln. I can't imagine we're exposed to the fumes much at all in our studios.  I've been mostly concerned with the amount of dust I've been throwing around with my aggressive studio habits. Since then I've been wearing a respirator whenever I'm working with the clay in my studio. 
Again, thanks for your words - they are reassuring. 

 

10 hours ago, JBaymore said:

My big questions is WHERE did you learn about the toxic qualities of manganese?  Let's start there to see if what you learned is accurate.

best,

....................john

Thanks for the response, John.
Some of the sources I've read through:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manganism
and other (anecdotal but scary) articles on Digitalfire
However, I paid most of my attention to this one since it seemed rooted in the most concrete science: https://digitalfire.com/4sight/hazards/ceramic_hazard_manganese_inorganic_compounds_toxicology_317.html

I've scrolled through various peer-reviewed articles on NCBI's site as well.
ie: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3980863/

-Lucas

 

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