Workspace Safety: Jewelry Makers and COPD February 27 2015
While Nimoy attributed his COPD from having been a smoker in his youth, jewelers and fiber artists are also risk groups for developing COPD. For silversmiths/goldsmiths like myself:
- the solders we use may produce toxic fumes (cadmium, found in many gold solders, is extraordinarily toxic);
- the flux and pickle we use are so acidic that the fumes alone are capable of eating through steel in a matter of weeks; and
- our buffing wheels and compounds produce dangerous irritants.
I've been taking the opportunity today to consult with fume extraction system and ventilation system manufacturers. They've been extraordinarily helpful in customizing a system, based on the Material Safety Data Sheets from the materials I use. I also recently added a cadmium-level test to my regular checkup routine.
Jewelers: as your business scales larger and you spend more and more time at your workbench, don't forget to scale up your work-safety measures, as well!
I'd love to hear what kind of systems other artists are using to make sure they live long and prosper. :)