Deborah Thuman on fri 28 jan 11
Back in the late 70's when I was in college, I worked towards a dual
degree - ba in journalism and a ba in biology. I had ether squirted
under my nose - so that I could know how much to squirt on the fruit
flies without killing them. Imagine 15 students in an enclosed
classroom all armed with ether and squirting fruit flies and looking
at them under a microscope. It's a wonder we didn't kill ourselves.
I had to work with formaldehyde until I developed an allergy to it and
refused to use the stuff any more. This brought no end of
consternation to the professor. Then again, he had asthma and smoked,
so what did he know about safety?
I handled radioactive material that was in a glass beaker. I was
assured that the radioactive part couldn't cross the glass. Okay...
how about flying out of the opening on top?
I look back and wonder why, if I was smart enough to earn a dual
degree, why wasn't I smart enough to insist on safety precautions?
A couple years ago, we finally got a safety person for the clay studio
at New Mexico State University. The glaze room was way high for lead
in the air. How thrilling. Worse, the vent hood over where we weigh
and mix our glazes didn't always work. There's a kiln room for the
electric kilns - which vents into one of the grad student studios. At
least the gas kilns are outside. The building is a retro fit (it used
to be a gym), but still better safety precautions could have been in
place from the beginning.
Safety is much better at the NMSU ceramic studio now, and I now have
some good ideas for safety features when Jim and I build our own studio.
steve graber on sat 29 jan 11
"What doesn't=3DA0kill=3DA0you, makes you stronger........."=3D0A=3D0A=3D0A=
..=3D0A=3D0A=3D0A=3DA0Steve Graber, Graber's Pottery, Inc=3D0AClaremont, Ca=
SA=3D0AThe Steve Tool - for awesome texture on pots! =3D0Awww.graberspotter=
m email@example.com =3D0A=3D0A=3D0AOn Laguna Clay's website=3D0Ahttp=
: Deborah Thuman =3D0ATo: Clayart@LSV.CERAMICS.ORG=3D=
nt: Fri, January 28, 2011 6:59:27 AM=3D0ASubject: Safety in the studio=3D0A=
ack in the late 70's when I was in college, I worked towards a dual=3D0Adeg=
e - ba in journalism and a ba in biology. I had ether squirted=3D0Aunder my=
ose - so that I could know how much to squirt on the fruit=3D0Aflies withou=
killing them. Imagine 15 students in an enclosed=3D0Aclassroom all armed wi=
ether and squirting fruit flies and looking=3D0Aat them under a microscope=
It's a wonder we didn't kill ourselves.=3D0A=3D0AI had to work with formald=
e until I developed an allergy to it and=3D0Arefused to use the stuff any m=
e. This brought no end of=3D0Aconsternation to the professor. Then again, h=
had asthma and smoked,=3D0Aso what did he know about safety?=3D0A=3D0AI han=
adioactive material that was in a glass beaker. I was=3D0Aassured that the =
dioactive part couldn't cross the glass. Okay...=3D0Ahow about flying out o=
the opening on top?=3D0A=3D0AI look back and wonder why, if I was smart eno=
to earn a dual=3D0Adegree, why wasn't I smart enough to insist on safety pr=
autions?=3D0A=3D0AA couple years ago, we finally got a safety person for th=
ay studio=3D0Aat New Mexico State University. The glaze room was way high f=
lead=3D0Ain the air. How thrilling. Worse, the vent hood over where we wei=
=3D0Aand mix our glazes didn't always work. There's a kiln room for the=3D0=
ctric kilns - which vents into one of the grad student studios. At=3D0Aleas=
the gas kilns are outside. The building is a retro fit (it used=3D0Ato be a=
ym), but still better safety precautions could have been in=3D0Aplace from =
e beginning.=3D0A=3D0ASafety is much better at the NMSU ceramic studio now,=
I now have=3D0Asome good ideas for safety features when Jim and I build ou=
own studio.=3D0A=3D0ADeb Thuman=3D0Ahttp://debthumansblog.blogspot.com/=3D0=
Fred Parker on sat 29 jan 11
Deb, this really takes me back! In high school, during the summer of 195=
got a job in a (very BIG name) chemical plant in my hometown. We used hu=
cylinders of chlorine, 50# bags of letharge (a lead oxide), all the commo=
organic solvents and high pressure steam. When handling the letharge we
were supposed to wear respirators but that only applied to the person
dumping it into the reactor hatch -- not other workers in the area. Abou=
the only other hard-and-fast safety protocols we followed required that w=
we carried the highly explosive, shock-sensitive containers of peroxide
catalysts up to the top floor of the plant for adding to the reactors. (=
was so dangerously explosive it was stored in an isolation building out i=
the middle of a field where it, presumably, would not destroy a plant
building if it went off.) Safety protocol: we had to use the back stairs=
the outside of the building -- not the freight elevator. They didn't wan=
fireball inside the plant where acetone and other organic solvents were
routinely used to mop the floors.
My personal favorite tale from those days is about being tapped to clean =
inside of a chemical reactor after a run. There was unimaginable gook le=
on the walls and agitator blades. Somebody had to clean it up. Usually
that "somebody was low man on the food chain. Guess where I was. Here's=
how it worked:
The unlucky recruit was fitted with an old parachute harness, a supplied-=
respirator and given a brass putty knife. A rope was run over a pulley
suspended over the hatch of the 20,000 gallon reactor (about 12 feet deep=
and attached to the parachute harness. The agitator motor switch was loc=
"off" with a padlock and the key was given to the guy about to go in.=3D20
Somebody then used the rope to raise the victim, then pushed him over the=
hatch and lowered him in where he spent hours in an environment of toxici=
and no air. Inside, I was TOTALLY dependent on the supplied air in the
respirator. Because those things have to fit very tightly, it was
impossible to breathe in or out if the air supply was cut. Of course, a
favorite prank of the shift loser-of-the-day was to crimp the air hose.
That summer job was a real experience; however, I certainly would not wan=
my son doing it, and after my father found out what it was like in that
plant he regretted allowing me to do it. As I recall, only one building
blew up that summer. They were designed to blow their panels off the wal=
to minimize injury and damage, and that's what happened. Somebody create=
spark while somebody else was squeegeeing down the floors with a volatile=
All of that happened before there was any OSHA, which pretty much changed=
all of that. However, the pendulum does swing...
Forty years later I was teaching a course in metal sculpting at a local a=
center near my home. We were near the end of the course, and were workin=
on finishes that looked like patinas without actually being an oxide type=
patina. Instead of the dangerous stuff -- acids etc. -- we used various =
paints, varnishes and so forth. Nothing more than was used in every camp=
art building anywhere that has a painting course. About halfway through =
session I was called into the hallway where I was told "someone" down the=
hall in another class was complaining about smelling turpentine, and we h=
to stop using it. I'm a big fan of safety -- a BIG fan -- but that made =
wonder just how wimpy were becoming. What's next? Vinaigrette?
On Fri, 28 Jan 2011 07:59:27 -0700, Deborah Thuman =3D
>Back in the late 70's when I was in college, I worked towards a dual
>degree - ba in journalism and a ba in biology. I had ether squirted
>under my nose - so that I could know how much to squirt on the fruit
>flies without killing them. Imagine 15 students in an enclosed
>classroom all armed with ether and squirting fruit flies and looking
>at them under a microscope. It's a wonder we didn't kill ourselves.
>I had to work with formaldehyde until I developed an allergy to it and
>refused to use the stuff any more. This brought no end of
>consternation to the professor. Then again, he had asthma and smoked,
>so what did he know about safety?
>I handled radioactive material that was in a glass beaker. I was
>assured that the radioactive part couldn't cross the glass. Okay...
>how about flying out of the opening on top?
Maggie Furtak on mon 31 jan 11
Deb, I love it!
I also had fun science classes with ether. Can't remember what the experim=
was exactly...something about staining cells? An un-ventilated lab and it =
100 degrees outside, so we couldn't open the windows. 30 kids with open be=
of ether. The lab instructions specifically warned us not to inhale the et=
so my lab partner used the appropriate scientific "wafting" motion to get a
whiff of it. He was curious! We were all curious! An hour later he found
himself wandering the halls on the first floor, with no idea how he got the=
We all had to re-do the lab because we were all so loopy no one's results =
anything like what they should have been. Fortunately we re-did it on a co=
day and opened the windows.
And formaldehyde... I'd prefer it. I grew up in the age of "bio-guard". =
lucky enough to take gross anatomy as a high school student with the first =
med students up the road. Some deranged person had the bright of idea of m=
bio-guard preservative smell like mint. Again, hot un-ventilated room, a
cadaver for every 2 students, a terrible minty sweet smell. It made brushi=
your teeth incredibly nauseating, even months later.
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