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Many substances are a problem when working with pottery, ceramics or glazes during production, through touch or inhalation, others in the finished product.
A designates a substance which may be hazardous to health, either through inhalation or assimilation through the skin.
Some substances should not be used for tableware, usually due to leaching.
While the substances listed may be hazardous, this does not mean they cannot be used at all - rather that caution should be used!
Note that some ingredients listed may not be designated as toxic, but may be hazardous nonetheless.
A comprehensive list of MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) are available here: http://avogadro.chem.iastate.edu/MSDS/ .

Safety Measures:

  • know the materials you are dealing with

  • wear a good dust mask when handling dry materials

  • wear gloves when touching any raw materials, dry or wet

  • avoid using particularly toxic raw materials, such as white lead. Use frits instead.

  • wash hands carefully after contact with materials

  • wear protective clothing and wash frequently

  • Wear a gas mask when reducing or salt or soda firing

  • Wash workbenches and wet mop studio floors

  • If spraying glazes, wear a mask and use a spray booth

  • Never eat or drink near studio or working area

Clay And Glaze Toxic Materials List

Alumina

Dust is a nuisance to lungs

Asbestos

Causes particularly nasty, incurable fibrosis if inhaled.

Barium Carbonate

is a dangerous form of barium, as it forms a soluble chloride in the stomach and accumulates.
It affects muscles, in particular the heart, increasing its excitability, leading to high blood pressure and internal bleeding.
Will penetrate the skin.
Not recommended for food ware, as it may leach.

Borax

chronic exposure can cause asthma, diarrhea and skin conditions

Cadmium

Used as a pigment in glazes.
Can cause respiratory diseases, osteoporosis, cancer and other problems.

Carbon Dioxide

If the oxygen level falls, hearing will decrease, pulse and blood pressure rise.
Carbon dioxide forms during combustion firing processes.

Carbon Monoxide

combines in the body with the hemoglobin in the blood and reduces the availability of oxygen to the body.
Symptoms such as headache, dizziness and fatigue appear in healthy people when 10% of their hemoglobin combines with carbon monoxide. Can lead very quickly to drowsiness, then death.
Forms during heavy reduction firings.

Chromates and Chromic Acid

may be cancerous.
Will also enter the body through the skin.

Cobalt Oxide, Carbonate

can cause liver damage and dermatitis.
Will enter the body through the skin.

Copper

salts are irritants to the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes.
Inhalation of copper dust and fume results in irritation of the respiratory tract.

Dusts

in all forms in the studio should be avoided.
They accumulate over the years and cause emphysema -- not a nice disease to have.
Take special care with silica.

Ferrous Sulphite

can be fatal and should be avoided.

Fiber Blanket

especially in the fired state can shed invisible floating fibers that have similar effects to asbestos.

Gases

from salt kilns and reducing kilns, can cause respiration trouble or even acid corrosion of lung tissue.

Gum Arabic

may cause asthma and eye inflammations.

Iron Chromate

may lead to acute pneumonia and cause lung cancer.

Iron Oxide Dust

is poisonous for children and can cause "iron pigmentation" of the lungs, supposedly benign but contentious.

Kaolin

similar to silica.

Lead

is an accumulative poison.
It can be stored in the bone structure for years before a fatal dose is accumulated.
Beware of raw lead forms, such as white or yellow lead, which are extremely toxic.
Use lead frits instead.
Do not use for tableware.

Liquid Petroleum Gas

can cause headaches, numbness, chills and vomiting, but is a greater risk as explosive than inhalation.

Magnesium Oxide

is considered noxious, but general rules for dusts still apply.

Manganese

can lead to brain damage and eventually death.
Will penetrate skin.

Mica, Muscovite, Vermiculite, Lipidolite

may contain traces of asbestos.
Inhalation of dust will lead to lung irritation and coughing, possibly cancer, pneumoconiosis, dyspnea.

Nickel Oxide

can cause cancer.
Will cause skin irritation ('nickel itch').
Will penetrate skin.

Platinum

may cause asthma.

Potassium Dichromate/ Bichromate

is very poisonous.
Can cause kidney failure and is cancerous.
Avoid all contact!
Not recommended for tableware!

Selenium

affects the liver.

Silica

is ever present in clay materials.
Repeated inhalation will cause potentially fatal silicosis, or 'potters' asthma', a form of emphysema.
The molecule (especially when fired) has a 'hook' which attaches itself to the lung wall and accumulates and irritates.

Sulpher Dioxide

is a strong lung irritant and can form when firing soluble metal salts.

Talc

similar to silica

Tin Oxide

can result in ' stenosis;

supposedly a benign condition.

Titanium Dioxide

causes pulmonary irritation in chronically exposed workers.

Uranium Compounds

cause kidney damage, not to mention the radioactivity.

Vanadium Pentoxide

can cause anemia; it is a respiratory irritant.

Zinc Oxide

primarily a nuisance dust, but exposures to high concentrations can result in respiratory system effects.

Zirconium

contact of the skin with zirconium or zirconium compounds has caused skin granulomas in the form of linear streaks of small papules; also causes pulmonary granulomas after prolonged exposure.

Disclaimer

:this database is by no means a complete listing of toxic materials. It is a guide only. It remains the duty of each individual handling these and other substances to insure that the proper safety standards are met, and that he/she is fully informed on the levels of toxicity of the various substances he/she is using. For more information, refer to the relevant literature available on each ingrediant.

Feeling more ignorant every day means you're learning.



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