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Pottery Studio Hazards

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Some friends have converted an old cabin into a pottery studio and guest quarters. The studio is a great room which includes a kitchen/dining area and a loft with sleeping space above. The space is quite dusty. Are there health risks related to the dust and/or residues from toxins that might escape from a (vented) kiln? The studio is used about ten hours a week, and the loft is used for guests maybe once or twice a month for a weekend.

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Yes the dust is a hazard.Silica dust comes from clay and can stay airborne for hours after sweeping.It can cause silicosis, aka White Lung or Potters' Rot. When you say vented kiln, is the exhaust vented outside. If so, that is ok.

 

Marcia

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You might also be looking a contamination from the studio entering your kitchen/food area (clay dust and worse settling on food items sitting on counter, etc). And, even with the vent, you may not want to be eating in the common great room while firing, as well as sleeping. Kilns will vent carbon monoxide at some point -- although the vent (if going outside) helps. I'd be somewhat concerned that everything is in one open area.

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All pottery studios are dusty, so are construction site, baseball fields,dry lake beds, the beach, etc etc.

Silicosis is specific to silica in lungs. Not all clay. Unless your body has silica in in. Most small particles are filter by nasal hair, then caught my mucous membranes which are frequently expelled. I'm all for respiratory saftey and hygiene. Working int the medical field have seen the ravages lung damage. But where do you draw the line . Do we all need to be wearing respirators and or haz mat suits when we go to studio. In my limited experience I only wear mask (n-90) when spraying or mixing powdered glaze.

Are people hat work in pottery studios at risk? Where should the saftey line be drawn? How many here have read (if available ). MSDS on all products in studio? I suppose that may be good start. Maybe a pulmonologist or environmental safety expert will chime in here.

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All pottery studios are dusty, so are construction site, baseball fields,dry lake beds, the beach, etc etc.

Silicosis is specific to silica in lungs. Not all clay. Unless your body has silica in in. Most small particles are filter by nasal hair, then caught my mucous membranes which are frequently expelled. I'm all for respiratory saftey and hygiene. Working int the medical field have seen the ravages lung damage. But where do you draw the line . Do we all need to be wearing respirators and or haz mat suits when we go to studio. In my limited experience I only wear mask (n-90) when spraying or mixing powdered glaze.

Are people hat work in pottery studios at risk? Where should the saftey line be drawn? How many here have read (if available ). MSDS on all products in studio? I suppose that may be good start. Maybe a pulmonologist or environmental safety expert will chime in here.

 

 

 

 

 

To be clear, are you saying that not all clay contains silica? That is not correct at all.. People who work in clay studios are at risk and since silica accumulates in the lungs, the more exposure you have the more at risk you are. With regard to this specific situation, the line should be clear--sleeping in the same room as a pottery studio is asking for trouble. Once you begin working in that studio I promise you that if you turn out the lights and turn on a flashlight, itll look like a snowstorm in there--and thats the stuff you CAN see.... Why expose yourself to that when you don't need to... Also, an n-90 mask is doing very little for you--they don't seal well--you want a half mask respirator with p100 filters on it for dealing with silica. The MSDS sheets for most of what is in a studio are going to talk about silica or other inhalation hazards or heavy metals--the quality of these sheets varies greatly depending on the manufacturer.

 

//edit//

just because your recipe doesn't have silica listed as its own ingredient DOES NOT mean that there are not sources of free silica in that body.

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Here are the references usually cited by John Baymore relative to studio safety: "Artist Beware" by Dr. Michael McCann, "Keeping Claywork Safe and Legal" by Monona Rossol, and "Artists Health and Safety Guide" by Mononna Rossol.

 

As potters, we are probably more tuned into the risks associated with our profession or hobby. For good reason, every studio I've been in has prohibited food preparation and consumption . . . unless in a designated area or separate room. So, a studio that share common space with a kitchen/eating room just does not pass the common sense test. Same for sleeping in a room where a kiln may be firing or recently fired. Yes, vents remove a lot of the nasty stuff . . . but they do not remove all of it. I tend to avoid my garage studio during early firing due to smells . . . and my kiln is vented to the outside. And, despite my efforts to minimize dust, I still manage to track it into the house proper. Dust from dried clay, dust from glazes spilled on the floor, dust from glaze making chemicals, dust from the boxes of clay, dust from plastic used to wrap wares, etc. An occasional visitor will not contract silicosis; but a regular worker has a higher risk. We just need to use good common sense to minimize risk to everyone.

 

MSDS tell us clay is non-toxic in the wet state . . . so there is no need to don a hazmat suit while throwing. But, most of us will also admit MSDS sheets are, for the most part, limited and incomplete . . . they put out a minimum amount of info and generally try to minimize dangers.

 

In the instance cited by the original poster, I would recommend they either use the cabin as a pottery studio or a guest house . . . but not both. Even with scheduling to prevent overlap, it just doesn't seem the safest place to do both things.

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When I lived up the mountain, my studio was attached to my living quarters--with an intervening laundry room. Even though kiln was vented to outside and I changed my clothes in the laundry room (especially shoes) there was still too much transfer of dust and odors into the house. My current studio is in a separate building and even with multiple rugs to clear dust from shoes, I'm sure some of it gets into the house.

 

Definitely, the cabin needs to be either a studio or a guest house--NOT both!

 

Shirley

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Silicosis of the lungs is going to be your main issue. do a bi-weekly clean up and you can minimize risks to your lungs. Wear a resperator, sweep your studio with minimal agitation to the debris around the shop. then when air dust settles, mop everything ... preferably twice. wipe down all surfaces, work shelves, crannies what have you .. and you are good. Also helps to not do really dusty things in the studio space (shaking out canvases, sanding pots, crushing dry clay, etc etc etc) if you really feel icky about it still, invest in a couple humidifiers .... turn those bad boys on for a few days before cleaning ... makes the clay stick to surfaces so clean up is easier and not so 'Oh joy, I just wiped that area ... now it's dusty again!!!'

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There are lots of other threads here on the health and safety subject. Take a bit of time to look through the past postings with likely topic headers.....you'll find a lot of info.

 

And the carcinogenity of microcrystalline respirable free silica is more of an issue for the studio artist than the potential of silicosis. Although it also is there. I know studio potters with silicosis.

 

best,

 

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

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Thanks lots of great info.

 

Im trying to find some official and / or scientific reference. Please.

 

The studio I use back room is kiln, glaze and storage. I was back there for only a few minutes and got a wicked headache. I did find some info online about hazards, but nothing even marginally scholarly. I'd like to conveniently leave reference, and or respectfully ask they they at least use exhaust fans while kilns are in use. Granted the back warehouse is separated by a door. I'm sure long term exposure in small amounts is also very bad for studio owner/ worker. So if you can direct me to some "white paper" or at least published information, or remotely schollarly it would be greatly appreciated.

 

Regarding n-95 (correction) mask. We are fitted trained with n 95 mask. Then tested to assure efficiency. Manufacturer states its 95 percent effective. And the CDC approves it for tuberculosis exposure. The masks filter particle to 0.3 microns. Are studio particulate hazards smaller than 0.3 microns?

 

Thanks in advance

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Manufacturer states its 95 percent effective. And the CDC approves it for tuberculosis exposure. The masks filter particle to 0.3 microns. Are studio particulate hazards smaller than 0.3 microns?

 

The "standard" for microcrystalline respirable silica in the workplace is a P-100 or HEPA filtered half face mask. See OSHA's silica program information (online). Only air sampling will tell you the actual exposure level and then the comparisons to the TLV / PEL for the material in the space. And yeah... they are sub-micro particles that are the issue. And from firing kilns..... any fumes generated (tiny particulates) are typically small.

 

Plus you have the potential for carbon monoxide and stuff like florine and sulphur di and tri oxide evolving from decomposing raw materials and melting glazes. Not huge amount...... but it is there. Low levels of CO and also SOx can cause headaches.

 

best,

 

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

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....sweep your studio with minimal agitation to the debris around the shop. then when air dust settles, mop everything....

 

 

I strongly disagree with this: sweeping kicks everything into the air. This is when you use your HEPA vac! Then mop and wet wipe surfaces to get the settled dust.

 

Here is something extra I do: when I turn on my shop vac it creates so much wind from the output that it blows the dust into the air: really defeats the purpose: so I got some flex dryer vent hose: taped it to one of the wand extension tubes which fits in the output so I can extend the output to outside through a window: this way the vac doesn't blow all the dust into the air. Also with this rig anything that gets past the filter is blown outside not into my space. Works great!

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The dust you can SEE in the air is not the problem. That dust is filtered out by the mucous membranes and hair and cillia that line the nose and airways. The problem is the sub-micron particles that get missed by these natural defenses ion the human body. These particles are what goes right through standard vacume filters ande which are kicked up by actions like sweeping. The particles are so tiny that the movement of the molecules of air tend to keep them suspended in that air as they slowly settle toward the ground due to the minimal gravitational action on such light particles for 24-36 hours after they get into the air in a room.

 

The real solution to this problem is not respirators or air filtration or ventilation, but prevention. Don't let the stuff get airborn in the first place. Good work habits, and liberal, frequent wet cleaning as potential dust producing materials are generalted are the two first steps. Then local pickup ventilation for the identified point sources of dusts. Then more general wet cleaning, and lastly HEPA filtered ceramic vacs, central vacs with exterior venting are the last step.

 

 

best,

 

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

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