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Studio safety rules – managing dust

Clay dust is a health hazard
safety first dust in the studio

Dust in the pottery studio contains particles of silica which are a health hazard. There are some simple rules to minimise your exposure.

RULE 1: “IF IT’S WHITE IT NEEDS A WIPE”

RULE 2: NEVER blow dust

  • Minimise dust by constantly wiping down work surfaces with a wet sponge or mop on the floor
  • Always soak aprons in a bucket of water or wipe down with a sponge
  • Prolonged exposure to silica dust can cause a serious lung disease called Silicosis – be aware for your own and other’s health
  • Exercise caution always, be vigilant, use a wet sponge and/or spray bottles and always wash hands before consuming food or drink.

Tips to minimise dust

  • Avoid sanding, carving, scraping or scraffito of dry pieces. If you must do it, then:
    • Wear a proper dust mask with a minimum of a P2 rating
    • Work outside over moist newspaper or a shallow bowl of water so all fine dust drops straight into the water
  • NEVER BLOW DUST when carving, incising, turning, glazing or sanding. Use a brush instead
  • NEVER scrape dry clay from ware boards or bats. Wash it off instead
  • ALWAYS use a wet sponge to sponge work surfaces after wedging clay and as soon as white dust starts to appear on any surface
  • Replace plastic sheets that cover the shelf or your work regularly as they gather dust over time
  • Take clay out of the bag and place in a plastic container, in order to eliminate clay dust from the bag
  • NO floor-sweeping! Use a wet mop only and change the water in the bucket often
  • Have “studio shoes” that you only wear in the studio so no dust goes home with you
  • Wear a “lab coat” or have a set of “studio clothes” that you change into
  • Wash aprons in a bucket of water before putting into the normal wash.


Remember – “If it’s white it needs a wipe”

Excellent resources on Silca Dust

The Canadian consumer advocacy group “ConsumerNotice.org” has released two guides on the dangers that silica dust presents to potters and others working with silica materials.

The articles also include advice on the precautions you can take to reduce the risks that silica dust poses.

https://www.consumernotice.org/environmental/silica-dust/

https://www.consumernotice.org/environmental/silica-dust/silicosis/