I recently came across a blog in which someone was pleading with the blogger to tell a loved one not to take ceramics, because they'd heard it was full of dangerous chemicals. They didn't want their loved one to get sick.
Unfortunately, the blogger isn't a potter. Although in many ways the blog answer was correct --- the three main danger areas are breathing in clay particles, breathing in glaze material particles, and breathing in noxious gases from the firing --- the blogger seemed to believe that all glazes contain toxic heavy metals (including lead), as well as making a few other not-exactly comments.
Nearly all of us who work in clay realize we ought not breath in huge amounts of clay dust or use a spray gun without a vented booth and the proper respirator. Most of us realize that the tang in the air while firing isn't exactly a good thing to breath in.
Yes! Do know the potential health problems that can occur. But also please do recognize that pottery is like a lot of other activities. Respect the hazards, and you'll avoid trouble. Here's some articles to point you in the right direction:
- Make Safety a Priority
- Control Dust in Your Pottery Studio
- Poisons in Pottery
- Labels and Poisonous Materials
- Use Your Kiln Safely
Happy and Safe Potting!