Dust is a pernicious problem in the ceramic arts. Simply because we work in clay, potters have a lot of dust to contend with. Dust is created from working with the clay itself, from splatters created when dipping and pouring glazes, and during the mixing of dry clay and glaze materials.
Much of that dust is made of irritants and even toxic materials. Keep dust out of your body and as limited as possible in your environment. Use common-sense cleanup and maintain your work area.
Use the Right Equipment
- Use a National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) approved respirator any time you are creating or stirring up dust.
- Be sure that your respirator has an air tight seal. For a quick check, remove the cartridges and cover inlets with your palms: you should not be able to inhale. If you need help, occupational health programs can offer formal testing for respirator fit.
- Clean respirators after each use according to the manufacturer's directions. Replace filter elements often.
- If you are spraying ceramic materials always use the right respirator. Ordinary masks sold by paint and hardware stores don't offer adequate protection for pottery.
- A safety supply house is the best source for masks and information.
Dust Clean-up Tips
- Clean the rims or jars and containers before closing to prevent dried buildup.
- Wipe down work areas with a wet sponge, and rinse the sponge frequently.
- Clean up spills before they dry.
- Don't sweep floors with a broom; wet floors down and then mop.
- Studio or work space floors should be non-porous, such as linoleum, and sealed if they are concrete.
- If you use a vacuum, it should be equipped with HEPA-type exhausting filter that traps particles 0.3 micron in diameter and larger.
- Clean greenware when it is still damp.