Hazards in dealing with ceramics

Posted by on Nov 1, 2015 in Ceramic Engineering, Ceramics, Knowledge | Comments Off on Hazards in dealing with ceramics

While pottery is considerably less harmful when compared to other workplaces, some of the materials used in pottery can cause illness and hazards. Knowing about such materials will help you avoid them and make your workplace safe, especially if kids are involved in the ceramic creation.

Children have for a long time safely played with clay and made beautiful things out of clay, but this has been possible because of handling the involved materials with common sense and respect.  Here are some of the hazards associated with ceramic pot creation

Lead poisoning

Lead is a very dangerous material, especially when ingested or breathed in. It is released from firing into air, when painting or glazing is done on the ceramic. Using a ceramic pot or mug glazed with lead in it can be toxic. Although most of the ceramics used now do not contain lead, sometimes the lead may be added accidentally which can lead to serious effects.

The lead in the glaze is absorbed by any drink or food that is acidic. Coffee or tea cups and serving dishes are mostly made of ceramic. These look beautiful and are preferred by all in both cold and hot weather.

Lead is used in such utensils because it helps to speed up the melting of the glaze, so any color can be added easily. If you are buying ceramic items while on a vacation abroad, make sure you test for lead. The test kits are inexpensive and purchased easily.

While ceramics are used in almost all spheres of life from simple household pottery to highly advanced space technology there hasn’t been much research on the hazards they produce. Even modern day mountain skis have ceramic in them to enable better safety and performance. Choosing an efficient Mountain Ski, helps to have a better experience on the slopes.

Ceramic paint

White color paint had lead carbonate in it earlier. Lead oxide was used to add red color. This paint when it is washed down by rain can contaminate soil and cause harm to children affecting their intelligence and also cause other dangerous symptoms.

Materials to be used with caution

The following materials are hazardous and should be used with care. Inhaling the fumes or ingesting them should be avoided.  While the materials do not generally produce any hazards when fired properly in glazes, you still need to be careful while using them.

Borax, cadmium, beryllium, cobalt, selenium, chromium, copper, potassium, nickel, zinc, vanadium and potassium dichromate are the materials to be used with care.

Toxins formed during firing

Materials such as chlorides, fluorides, sulfides, and carbonates can form toxic fumes when they are fired. Impure clay, fluorspars, gypsum, cryolite, crude feldspars and a few other materials have the above materials.

The ball clay commonly used in pottery contains dioxin, which releases fumes on firing. These get deposited in blood and causes serious problems. Dioxin inhalation occurs when people fire ceramic pieces in their home basement in kilns, which are not vented. Knowing the materials, and processes that release the toxins, help in taking proper precautions such as wearing protective gear, using right equipment and a proper studio for the ceramic creation.