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clayneurosis

Cleared up lots of dried clay with hot water; coughed; stopped; feeling very worried and neurotic

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Hi all! I have a silly clay newbie question. I was doing some clay work at home for the first time about a week and a half ago, and all was fine. Once I was done there was a lot of dried clay on the mats the next day, which I wanted to get rid of, so I put the mats in the shower and blasted them with the shower nozzle on the highest temperature. This worked well, and I didn’t notice anything amiss, until suddenly I found myself coughing a bit; I immediately stopped, and the cough disappeared within a few minutes. It hasn’t come back since, except for just a tiny bit of coughing on and off over the last week, which I think might be psychosomatic (since it tends to happen only after I remember the clay incident). There was a lot of steam, although it didn’t “feel” at all different; and I had had a serious cough a few weeks ago for totally unrelated reasons which hadn’t fully resolved by this time. However, I am feeling pretty neurotic about this, and what kind of damage could have been done. Let me be clear: I totally recognise how stupidly I behaved! And if I ever work with clay again, I’ll be much more sensible. But how concerned should I be here? This is the first time I've ever worked with clay, if that's relevant (and maybe the last!)

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Good news, you're 100% not sufffering from any kind of clay poisoning or silicosis.  Bad news, sounds like you might have allergies.

Silicosis is gonna take a good long while to develop, years and years of full time pottery and clay dust.

If you want to be extra careful, wear a respirstor when cleaning 

Edited by liambesaw

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When you spray something dusty with high pressure, you end up sending a fair amount of the dust airborne without necessarily getting it all wet. So it's a combination of dust and dirty mist (and steam in your case) that you're inhaling. Inhaling it once isn't going to hurt you, but don't do it again. It's best to wash the mats off with gentle water pressure.

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8 hours ago, clayneurosis said:

This is the first time I've ever worked with clay, if that's relevant (and maybe the last!)

Welcome to the forum.  Noting the words you chose to describe your  experience with the mats/coughing (silly, stupidly, psychosomatic, neurotic, plus choosing the name "clayneurosis) I can't help but wonder if you may be a bit anxious about entering the world of ceramics? Nothing wrong with that...it can be pretty daunting to work with new materials, especially (in my opinion) when chemistry is involved, as well as safety issues! Your last sentence though implies that you might not give it a fair chance, that you might bail out before you really get started. Don't quit!! Give it some time. Take a class, get some books, watch some videos, scroll around these forums and other groups dedicated to clay and glazes--for example, Clay Buddies on Facebook is one that's beginner-friendly. Like anything else, we learn as we go and practice, use trial and error, practice some more, learn some more, and remember there are no silly/dumb newbee questions-the only useless questions are the ones not asked. Have fun.  

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Thank you all for feedback! I really appreciate it and it has really set my mind at rest, so thank you all for that. I also agree with what LeeU said, I might give it a shot again, but much more sensibly and cautiously. Thanks all!

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