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Hi There,

I make work that is sgraffito carved, most of which I try to do when the piece is leather hard but sometimes it's a little drier than I'd like. I am very concerned about silicosis. In the last couple of years, I have been wearing my respirator when I carve. It's a msr mask with p100 filters. Recently I met another sgraffito artist who suggested that unless I am replacing those cartridges VERY regularly (she suggested weekly or more) then it traps dust and does more harm than good. So she has switched to a regular dust mask that she replaces daily. I can't imagine that is true but wondering about peoples thoughts. I replace my cartridges about every 6 months and am never using them for heavy dust scenarios and the filters always look completely new when I replace them. 

Also looking for tips to improve my carving workstation to minimize dust. Currently I use a dropcloth which is laundered daily, and a pillow, encased in a plastic bag, then a pillowcase which is laundered semi-regularly, and a scrap of towel for the part that is touching the pot (also laundered daily). The dustiest part is when I shake the dust/trimmings from the towel to the drop-cloth. What would you suggest for a less dusty setup?

How concerned should I be about silicosis? Is it possible to get lungs checked for damage already done? Anyone have any experience with respiratory issues? 

 

Thanks

 

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Changing the filters every week is silly, hmm how worried should you be about silicosis?  As worried as you'd like to be I suppose.  Some people are very cautious and some people "do what they can" to minimize dust.  I am the latter, I try my best to keep things wet, I mix my glazes with a mask outdoors and I clean wet.  But I'm a messy thrower too, so there's clay smears all over.  

I change my mask filters every 6 months or so, they will never get so full of dust that they'll start putting dust into the mask, what sense does that make?  It's a filter, it'll clog and you won't be able to breathe through it.  It sounds like you're doing more than enough to avoid danger, so if you enjoy your current routine, keep on it.

Silicosis is a concern, but mostly for people who are exposed as part of their full time job.  It used to kill a lot of dental lab techs because we use pumice to polish dentures, but now that we know, we have vacuum units that whisk the silica outdoors so we can avoid some of the exposure.  I've never met someone in my industry who has gotten silicosis but my bosses knew several people back in the 70s who did.  

If you're not doing a ton of bone dry carving, I wouldn't worry about it, you're already wearing a mask which is the largest precaution you can take besides carving at leather stages.

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9 hours ago, dazzlepottery said:

The dustiest part is when I shake the dust/trimmings from the towel to the drop-cloth. What would you suggest for a less dusty setup?

I wouldn't be shaking any dust / trimmings inside your studio. I seem to remember someone here posted years ago about wearing a very long apron, with the bottom of the apron weighted down on a table top. She worked in her lap, trimmings fell into the apron then she went outside and dumped the trimmings into a bucket of water. If you are concerned about the airborne dust in your studio I would look into adding an air filter / venting set up.  The small silica particles that you can't see can hang in the air for a couple days. 

 

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I've seen something in the past that said they're good for 8 hours in a dusty environment, like in a factory setting where it's truly dusty. Carving sgraffito doesn't really qualify as being dusty enough that you'd need to change it daily, or probably even weekly. 3M says that their particulate filters should be changed when you notice that they're getting to be more difficult to breathe through. 3M also says that as the filters become clogged, they filter better, because particles have a harder time getting through them. So a dirty filter isn't allowing more particles through, but rather allowing less air through. Other companies say to replace the filters after 40 hours of use. OSHA lists all sorts of different variables that affect filter life, but a lot of them seem to be related to vapor cartridges rather than particulate cartridges, and much of their rules fall into having a schedule in place that is appropriate for your situation, rather than an overall guideline. Your friend is probably doing more harm by using disposable dust masks, because they don't filter anywhere near as well as a respirator. I think if I was wearing a respirator for a few hours a day doing sgraffito, I'd replace my cartridges every month or two. Find a mask that fits well and has affordable cartridges. Prices can vary greatly. You can often get lower prices by buying cartridges in larger quantities, like a 10 pack rather than two at a time.

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A friend of mine does environmental testing for lead, asbestos, etc. Silicon is the next "big thing". She says P100 do not need to be changed until the airflow becomes restricted; they will not allow particles through more based on use, just become more difficult to believe through. 99, N90, etc, do however need to be changed per manufacturer instructions. I have a P100 that I've been using for years for various household projects, and it is noticeably restricted, but I do not worry about breathing more contaminants, it just makes it difficult to work on projects that need me to actually breathe :) 

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9 hours ago, Kosch said:

I have a P100 that I've been using for years for various household projects, and it is noticeably restricted, but I do not worry about breathing more contaminants, it just makes it difficult to work on projects that need me to actually breathe :) 

If it's truly noticeably blocked, then I would expect that there's also a higher probability that you'll be sucking air through the sides of the mask, rather than through the filters, unless it's a perfect fit.

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On 4/13/2019 at 12:05 PM, dazzlepottery said:

Hi There,

I make work that is sgraffito carved, most of which I try to do when the piece is leather hard but sometimes it's a little drier than I'd like. I am very concerned about silicosis. In the last couple of years, I have been wearing my respirator when I carve. It's a msr mask with p100 filters. Recently I met another sgraffito artist who suggested that unless I am replacing those cartridges VERY regularly (she suggested weekly or more) then it traps dust and does more harm than good. So she has switched to a regular dust mask that she replaces daily. I can't imagine that is true but wondering about peoples thoughts. I replace my cartridges about every 6 months and am never using them for heavy dust scenarios and the filters always look completely new when I replace them. 

Also looking for tips to improve my carving workstation to minimize dust. Currently I use a dropcloth which is laundered daily, and a pillow, encased in a plastic bag, then a pillowcase which is laundered semi-regularly, and a scrap of towel for the part that is touching the pot (also laundered daily). The dustiest part is when I shake the dust/trimmings from the towel to the drop-cloth. What would you suggest for a less dusty setup?

How concerned should I be about silicosis? Is it possible to get lungs checked for damage already done? Anyone have any experience with respiratory issues? 

 

Thanks

 

Your cartridge mask if reasonably fitted should outperform any ordinary dust mask with respect to dust particles. Regular dust masks almost always are not as hermetic or well fitted to your face as cartridge masks that require you to pull on the little straps for final fit. When speaking of particles (and we are) the cartridges filter from larger to smaller, meaning the final filter  in the cartridge is very small and will not permit a certain size particle to flow through it. As they become blocked you will not be able to draw air through it. As they become blocked you suck harder and it sticks to you face more. The amount of suction a human can exert through regular breathing is fairly small actually but it is a component of what makes these masks effective in the real world.  Sucking harder with a dust mask tends to draw in air from the marginal fit to your face. Again the respirator is generally superior to the dust mask, So change your cartridges at a reasonable interval for their use which might be a long time in your case.

last observation, when we design anything to do with dust and smoke, the first rule is to capture as much as possible at the point of generation. There are general rules about velocity and diameters of distance which I won’t bore you with. The basic premise is to have as much suction nearest where the dust is generated as reasonably practical.  I bring this up because shaking things out will spread very small particles everywhere nearly immediately. So if we design a station we include exhaust. In your case  a small exhaust would be ideal but short of that anything that you can do to shake this stuff out outdoors is probably far superior than doing it indoors. Maybe a small hepa rated vacuum to get your occasional pile of stuff is something to consider rather than shaking anything out first. The particles we are always concerned about are super small and become airborne with the gentlest breeze.

If you look at the picture below, it is me carefully scooping materials while shining a laser to see the effect. In this picture we are trying to figure out a best practice and exhaust requirements for this action. Notice the immediate dispersion of super fine dust even when carefully scooping. Dust is superfine, try not to get it air born..

5BD5C8AE-5B30-4C30-9DDB-0C81BBA22E7E.jpeg

Edited by Bill Kielb

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