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Re: [teacherartexchange] Kiln fumes and other toxins


From: Peggy Woolsey (eoolspeg_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Fri Mar 04 2011 - 04:45:48 PST

Thanks Ruth for this walk down memory lane. I am also unable to
handle any chemical smells, I can't even comfortably walk through the
drugstore anymore. I had bouts of pneumonia from the mordants used in
"natural" dyeing and from unventilated air brush use in art school. I
retired from my teaching job early partly because of kiln use by newer
teachers coming in who felt that using the old kiln was ok (window
ventilation). Despite my pleas for a more controlled situation (firing
on off days for example) the kiln became more and more in use (it was
in the room that I taught in unlike the other teachers who taught in
different rooms). Fume smells lasted for days. Requests to the
wellness committee proved to be iunproductive. Though I worried about
my students' exposure to fumes, I left. I took a substantial
pension reduction, but I figured I might be around longer if I gave my
body a complete rest from the art room. So, I agree, these are serious
issues and I don't understand why they are not more important.

On 4-Mar-11, at 3:42 PM, ruth campbell wrote:

> Hi all,
> The kiln fumes thread has had me take a walk down memory lane:
> Those of us with long art teaching careers have often had many years
> of exposure
> to hazardous products. Our "art rooms" often are former classrooms
> not designed
> with the safety requirements ( building codes)
> of a new art room.
> I remember migraines that seemed to coincide with permanent markers
> ( water
> based didn't exist in most art supplies); acetone was a commonly
> used ingredient
> in markers.
> Acetone again for cleaning oil base inks off our silkscreens, ( direct
> absorption through the skin..), breathing all types of dust
> inclduing dry glazes
> with lead, unvented jewelry studio classes lead-based solder w/ lead,
> etching with solvents, rubber cement.
> Cleaning up oil based inks, asbestos gloves, benzene, cadmium and
> cobalt paints,
> lead glazes.....
> Spray painting indoors, airbrushing without exhaust systems.
> Although it hasn't (yet) caught up with me, it may be too late for
> those of us
> that had heavy exposures during our student years, and early
> teaching years,
> to escape the cumulative health effects.
> Today, probably as a result of those early years, I have no
> tolerance to
> chemicals even being in a room with dry erase markers guarantees a
> migraine. One
> of my ongoing crusades has been to make students aware of potential
> exposures.
> I'm amazed still when I run into another old timer teacher that
> clings to the
> preferred products despite the dangers we now know about.
> Now, as then young people expect to live forever. I feel a duty to
> warn them to be careful-- wish someone had put the idea to question
> in my
> head--however, safer products did not exist. Even in these "informed
> times" In
> my own school system I've found little support for these concerns,
> I was a student at MassArt ( in Boston), considered then, as now a
> top college
> for Art. We had old buildings, rented factories. The only ventilation
> "system" was large windows. In my studio classes, as well as art-ed
> preparation toxic materials, or safety concerns were not part of our
> education.
> If you are a young art student, or teacher perhaps it seems crazy
> that we
> didn't question our safety. We didn't have alternative products
> and the
> awareness of today had not evolved.
> encourage all younger teachers to be proactive for your own safety
> and
> that of your students. Make the right decisions, even if budget
> takes a
> hit. Refuse the donations of old glazes, "free" kilns that have
> disintegrating
> asbestos tops, "still good" markers, and solvents.
> Be well,
> Ruth
> I
> ---
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