Saturday, August 11, 2012

Keeping Safety in Mind

by Janet Alexander
Technical Advisor

Today I want to touch on something that isn’t really talked about much. For you new metal clay artists out there this is very important. It is your safety. Did you know that every chemical and even metal has a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)?

All manufactures are required to issue these fact-filled data sheets with their product. They are easily found just by conducting an online search for the product in question.

How many of you have read one of these babies?

Did you know if you have a commercial business and use chemicals that many cities require you to keep these sheets in a binder stored close at hand for emergencies? It’s kind of like having a fire extinguisher close by. You never know when you need it until an emergency happens.

One time, years ago, I had some Hydrochloric acid stored in my studio. It was inside a box surrounded with absorbent material. That box was inside a larger box (for added protection). It was nice and safe. I went to move the whole set of boxes when the bottoms of both boxes dropped out! Crash goes the acid all over the floor instantly reacting with the floor material causing a cloud of gaseous smoke!

Since I am an extra cautious person, I had read the MSDS sheet and knew how to respond to the situation. Within an hour or two the acid was neutralized, air cleared in the room, and I was offered a job with the local fire department (this was before there was a Hazmat organization around.)

An MSDS sheet lists "procedures for handling or working with that substance in a safe manner, and includes information such as physical data (melting point, boiling point, flash point, etc.) toxicity, health effects, first aid, reactivity, storage, disposal, protective equipment, and spill-handling procedures."*

This leads to one of my pet peeves. How many of you out there have put your hands into a solution of Liver of Sulfur? Did you know that the MSDS sheet lists it as toxic, to be handled only with gloves? Did you know that if it comes into contact with your skin, you should wash with soap and water for 15 minutes and seek medical attention?

Check it out:

So, just because you see videos on the Internet with folks immersing their hands into a chemical, doesn’t mean it’s safe to do it. Please read the product’s instructions and the MSDS sheet for your own safety.

As always, have fun claying around! 

*Wikipedia definition.

1 comment:

Michele Milana said...

Thanks for the great article. I will be MUCH more cautious with the LOS from now on!