Read the Labels
Read all label instructions and warnings before using a product such as a glaze or stain. Labels will identify any hazardous ingredients and their hazards, provide first aid instructions, and give recommendations on how to use the material safely and prevent excessive exposure.
Material Safety Data Sheets
When ordering raw materials, request a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for each raw material from your supplier. The MSDS contains useful information such as the chemical name, chemical family, hazard class, formula, occupational exposure limits, emergency first aid procedures, waste disposal, respiratory protection, and precautions for handling and storage.
You can also get MSDSs online through Iowa State University Chemistry Department. Click here to go to their MSDS index.
Label Your Pottery
If you ever sell or give away any of your pottery that might conceivably be used for food or drink, it is a good idea to have on hand a list or to provide a label of glaze materials used on that particular piece. Note at the beginning of the list that you did not use any cadmium, selenium, potassium dichromate, potassium bichromate, lead, or barium in the glazes or clay bodies. These substances are toxic and can leach into foods and liquids. Also avoid uranium, since it will continue to be radioactive even after it is fired.
And of course, never use uranium, cadmium, selenium, potassium dichromate, potassium bichromate, lead, or barium in any ware that could possibly be used for food or consumable liquids.