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Toxic Raw Materials

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Hey Potters,

In order to promote studio safety i have been going through all the raw materials and sorting them in to groups of toxic and non toxic. The problem is that i have been hearing so many different answers to what is toxic and non toxic, first i used Laguna's raw material catalog which has every toxic material marked, but that list lists even feldspar as being carcinogenic. So, then i consulted a local potters guild who said that rutile, lead, and barium carb are all i need to worry about, then website after website has something different to say. So, what do you guys use in you studio's to determine toxicity? What raw materials do you consider toxic?

 

 

 

Thank you so much!

Darrel

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"Toxicity" comes in different forms. So you have to take that into account. Some materials are bad to inhale. Some are bad for skin contact. Some are bad for ingestion. You can't generalize too far.

 

Feldspars contain respirable crystalline free silica. So thay ARE carciogenic. Any raw materrial that does have a free silica component will be so classified. All clays contain this also.

 

For a fast summary, the three "biggies" that are of great concern are lead bearing compounds, cadmium bearing compounds, and silica* bearing compounds.

 

The BIG issue here for studio artists is that typically, no accurate environmental analysis of the studio environment is being made in order to make detailed decisions based upon the available science. Lacking that information,.................. you are presented with the problem of what assumptions do you make?

 

Some will say that the glass is half full.... some will say the glass is half empty. When you have a gun sitting in front of you....... do you assume that it is NOT loaded, or that it IS loaded? If you don't have studio employees (or studio "volunteers") then it is totally a personal decision as to how to proceed. If you have employees, then OSHA laws apply.

 

THE current accurate sources for understanding the nature of your raw materials and the potential hazards they might present are:

 

"Artist Beware" Dr. Michael McCann

 

"The Artists Complete Health and Safety Guide" -Monnona Rossol

 

"Keeping Claywork Safe and Legal" -Monnona Rossol

 

The MSDS for each raw materials from the supplier.

 

The OSHA website's workplace information.

 

The ACTS NYC data sheets: http://www.artscraft...datasheets.html

 

best,

 

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

 

 

PS: *Yeah...... silica. See the OSHA workplace standards for this. http://www.osha.gov/...icacrystalline/

 

PPS: If you want to understand occupational health issues... contact someone with an industrial health background. Mononna Rossol is such a person. http://www.artscraft...ty.org/bio.html (Tell her I said "hi".)

 

PPPS: I tried to upload my ceramic toxicology handout from the college classes I teach.... but it won't let me. Sorry.

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Every material in the ceramic studio presents some kind of hazard... What SPECIFICALLY are you concerned about?

 

good general information:

http://www1.umassd.e...y/ceramics.html

 

 

 

 

Thanks for the link. I am really looking for what i can't touch, because we have very strict inhalation and ingestion prevention in the studio, but i need to know which glazes i need to use while wearing gloves.

Darrel

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Every material in the ceramic studio presents some kind of hazard... What SPECIFICALLY are you concerned about?

 

 

 

Well, you know, in case somebody wants to try a taste of glaze or else. wink.gif

 

I actually has a collection of real warnings on real products:

Instruction on Airways packet of peanut: [1] Open packet [2] Eat peanuts

On Pick 'n Pay peanuts: Warning: contain nuts

On a bread pudding: Product will be hot after heating

On a hair dryer: Do not use while sleeping

On a bar of Dove soap: Directions: use like regular soap

On a frozen dinner: Serving suggestion: Defrost

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Every material in the ceramic studio presents some kind of hazard... What SPECIFICALLY are you concerned about?

 

 

 

Well, you know, in case somebody wants to try a taste of glaze or else. wink.gif

 

I actually has a collection of real warnings on real products:

Instruction on Airways packet of peanut: [1] Open packet [2] Eat peanuts

On Pick 'n Pay peanuts: Warning: contain nuts

On a bread pudding: Product will be hot after heating

On a hair dryer: Do not use while sleeping

On a bar of Dove soap: Directions: use like regular soap

On a frozen dinner: Serving suggestion: Defrost

 

 

 

That's great, I had a box of cheerios which said pour into a clean bowl, really?! T

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As a retired chemist, I think that potters sometimes become overly paranoid about raw material toxicity. The bottom line is that if it can't get on you or in you it can't harm you. Wear a dust mask and gloves while handling them and you have little to fear even from some of the more toxic metal salts that are some times used in glazes.

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As a retired chemist, I think that potters sometimes become overly paranoid about raw material toxicity. The bottom line is that if it can't get on you or in you it can't harm you. Wear a dust mask and gloves while handling them and you have little to fear even from some of the more toxic metal salts that are some times used in glazes.

 

 

Pottery studio toxicity has been covered many times here, so I'm not going to get into it here yet again, but, yes, you are absolutely right about potters sometimes becoming overly paranoid about the clays and other materials used in the studio. The same potter who plops their kid down in a sandbox to play or rides a dirt bike down 10 miles of dusty trail considers wearing a hazmat suit to mix glazes. Recently someone here said, "I shudder every time I see someone stick their hand into a bucket of glaze." Awareness of which materials are dangerous and common sense is all that is needed.

 

Jim

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As a retired chemist, I think that potters sometimes become overly paranoid about raw material toxicity. The bottom line is that if it can't get on you or in you it can't harm you. Wear a dust mask and gloves while handling them and you have little to fear even from some of the more toxic metal salts that are some times used in glazes.

 

 

Yeah- I got really paranoid about silicosis when I started seriously potting. I went gibbering in to my doctor, wanting to know all the gory details about what I was doing to my lungs. (Oh lawd... am I ever going to be able to run again, blah blah).

 

He very kindly reviewed the literature on my behalf, and basically told me to use a wet mop, maintain air flow, wear a respirator when mixing raw materials, and stop being a crybaby.

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As a retired chemist, I think that potters sometimes become overly paranoid about raw material toxicity. The bottom line is that if it can't get on you or in you it can't harm you. Wear a dust mask and gloves while handling them and you have little to fear even from some of the more toxic metal salts that are some times used in glazes.

 

 

Absolutely true. There is plenty of accurte information available on this subject.... you just have to make the bit of effort to find and understand it.

 

best,

 

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

 

PS: Who stuffs his hands into certain glazes up to the elbows all the time ......... and certain other glazes.... not so much. Knowing accurately which is which is the trick.

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Really fascinating article about Cobalt Carbonate toxicity.

 

This definitely helped calm me down when I was in my 'spilled glaze on my arm... I'm gonna die' phase.

 

 

 

This below (under "Fair Use") is the most important part of that article about what is a pretty "famous" case for those of us that study this toxicology side of the ceramic studio arts........:

 

"The most significant finding, of which potters should take note, occurred at Duke University’s Medical Center for Occupational & Environmental Medicine. The potter’s actual glaze and slip formulas were tested for respirable and ingestible concentrations of cobalt. The exposure assessment was conducted under controlled conditions duplicating the poor ventilation found in the potter’s studio. The exposure to cobalt was tested by a modeling technique where each activity was carried out duplicating the actions of the potter in his studio. The glaze and slip formulas were mixed and applied in the same “spatter†technique as used by the potter. Respirable exposure and ingestion levels were calculated for an average adult male based on the mixing operations in the potter’s studio. Test results determined, even allowing for a combination of incidental additive ingestion and inhalation in cleaning, mixing, and glazing activities, daily absorption of cobalt would be in the range of 170-945 micrograms per day. The levels of cobalt the potter was exposed to in his studio were the same as in the general population in the United States. This was reflected in testing hair, blood, and urine, values which fell within the normal range. A risk assessment for cobalt found no adverse effects in humans at exposures of 3400 micrograms per day.4 The assessment of the potter’s studio by Duke University’s Medical Center for Occupational & Environmental Medicine is believed to be the first documented case of cobalt material toxicity testing in a private ceramics studio."

 

 

It is all about KNOWLEDGE folks.

 

best,

 

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

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Every material in the ceramic studio presents some kind of hazard... What SPECIFICALLY are you concerned about?

 

good general information:

http://www1.umassd.edu/cvpa/safety/ceramics.html

Everyone should print this out and keep it in their studio. Great list. That sums it up very well.

Just use precautions and safety measures.

 

Thanks for the list.And thanks John, for posting all of Monnona's work. I met her at NCECA/Supermud in '79. She has made MAJOR contributions for safety information in our field.

 

 

Marcia

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John mentioned Mononna Rossol. I found her book "The Artist's Complete Health and Safety Guide" very useful and informative. It has a good chapter on ceramics. It also covers most other art disciplines.

 

As others have said, let education and common sense be your guide.

 

Have fun and be safe.

 

Lee

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I am a glaze chemist for several local studios. some private some public.  I deal with these material just about every day in the dry  form, going on 35 years.  my doctor knows what I do and screens me for several of them.  to date I have never shown any levels that are higher then the general public. I do wear a respirator when working with dry materials.  But sticking my hand and arm into a bucket of glaze to see if its mixed enough never bothered my.  except for glazes with soda ash, such as most shinos. that stuff will burn you. for the most part if the materials scare you your most likely in the wrong art form.  ceramics today is safe as long as you don't do what make no sense to do.  don't eat it, drink it, or snort it,  just have fun with it.  your in the most danger when you leave the studio.  so don't drive, walk down streets, go shopping, eat in restaurants, ........

 

stop worrying and have fun 

Tom

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