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and I mean that in the very literal sense. 

A recent email forwarded to me from a show organizer from a jeweler: 

"Can never make my jewelry again and will never be off of oxygen but I'm getting myself around and doing other things.


Never realized that soldering without proper ventilation would poison me.  I miss participating in the fine art fairs and yours is one I miss most.  You treat artists the best and I see you work hard for them.  Thanks for some great years.  Sure wish I could have done Asheville.  Love it there."

Does anyone know any other health hazards related to creating their work?

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Wow.  That is hard.

I don't solder but use paint, wax and other stuff related to painting home decor and furniture as well as sanding some pieces.  If I remember correctly all my products, except maybe one, are low VOC.  I need to check my labels.  I do try to remember good ventilation when using the one that tends to have an odor.

I am saddened to learn of the aforementioned jewelers health issues. With few exceptions I would wish all good health.

That was the disclaimer.

Now as to soldering, welding, brazing, torching, chemical usage etc. It is incumbent upon all of us to research, learn and be cognizant of the potential health as well as environmental hazards of our creation of art.

I have worked with welders who knew they would get galvanize poisoning but chose not to wear the appropriate respirators. A dear friend of mine has cancer from welding. He too never wore respirators. 

Does the jeweler use solder that contains lead?

As to the concern for VOC, it is not just VOC's that are of concern. Any fine dust / particulates, inhaled, especially in larger quantities or over time pose a threat. Therefore never sand without respirators.

How many of us have done some cutting without wearing eye protection?

We all take chances. The more comfortable, the more chances we take. Usually it takes a mishap or near accident to cause us to be more careful.

Using due diligence in research, good ventilation, hazard protection is important.

How far do we go towards the extreme? Does anybody wear a mask when shooting pool / billiards? Yet it has been found some long time players have had lung damage from inhaling the chalk.

"I have worked with welders who knew they would get galvanize poisoning but chose not to wear the appropriate respirators. A dear friend of mine has cancer from welding. He too never wore respirators. " -- me too ... A dear friend, sculptor Sonny Dalton, died from the complications.

You're a photographer, aren't you, Larry? I have often wondered about the effects of working in the dark in the darkroom with all the chemicals involved. Do you know if there is any evidence that that would cause health problems?

Yes, I'm sure, many, many years ago I would play with the various chemicals. Once I mixed a bunch of them together. I think it was the heat also as they hit a bulb. Either way a purple looking cloud rose from it. I passed out. I never remembered what happened for the rest of the day.

Maybe that is why I think the way I do :-)

Most of the time we are mixing chemicals with the light on.

I know of no claims from eye injury due to safelights. The years of having my hands in the various chemicals was certainly stupid. We are supposed to use the tongs but I always felt they might damage the image as some of the papers had such a soft emulsion.

I should have worn rubber gloves, at least.

The print dryers may have caused any residual chemicals, if they were not washed sufficiently,  to become airborne. 

I have acquired "paper cuts" from loading film onto reels :-) ;-) :-) (could not help myself there).

I've had my worse bodily injury during shot taking, rather than processing.

When keeping my eye in the view finder, while shooting, I walked off a little rock cliff. Hard to see the rest of the world when all you see is through the lens.

I took a tumble off a bicycle as I tried to capture a great shot of an eagle without stopping first. I've taken some spills trying to get to a great / better vantage point for the special shot. 

With newer camera equipment I believe there will be cases of eye damage. As now the digital cameras are video screens which are very different from the old days. The older cameras were akin to looking out a window. No enhancement to the lumens nor spectrum.

Also the new digital age brings about those issues with computer monitors. They have special glasses for filtering the harmful spectrum. 

The CRT monitors were worse with radiation than today's LCDs & LEDs, as far as we know.

Never bumped into anything in the Dark while in the darkroom. You become so attuned to your spacial environment. 

I wonder if I'll have issue from handling all the lead lined bags I used to protect the film when flying?

Yes. Textiles can also be very toxic, and my blood work shows a slight elevation that is usually seen in someone exposed to 2nd hand smoke now. Any type of fine powders used in dyeing can be toxic, due to being inhaled even with respirator etc because of surface exposure. Many use dye boxes to handle it. 

Brown lung and similar from inhaling fibers. When I was having custom fiber blends done, I didn’t realize tencel especially was breaking on the machines sending off super fine very short fibers until I figured out what was causing massive painful rashes on my arms. The fibers had literally become slivers embedded in my skin. Which means ditto in my lungs. Stopped using that as a blender. 

Many of the chemicals used in wetting out textiles are toxic and create deadly allergies. 

Way back when I started as a batik artist 45 years ago, no one knew anything about chemical hazards and I confess to having been careless, along with other artists I knew.  I dyed without gloves (bleached my hands to clean them up before shows) and mixed powdered dyes without a mask.  I wised up on the mask after I blew my nose and it was blue (~!) but undoubtedly hadn't done myself much good up to that point. So far I'm lucky, but I've had several friends who worked with dyes and developed cancers.  Scary stuff.


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