The caller had made jewelry for decades.
She said she was semi-retired and made about 50 pieces a month, a 50% reduction of her former rate of 100 pieces each month.
She also said that her work processes included pickling as well as soldering. (Links to information about soldering and pickling are below.)
The sad part
The caller had just been diagnosed with a disorder of the central nervous system. Her mentor had been similarly diagnosed 10 years earlier.
She had never used any type of fume extraction.
She was filled with regret and had one question: Is it too late?
We’re not doctors
We are not doctors. We cannot answer her question.
Even without medical degrees, we can say — over and over and over – that many work-produced fumes simply are not good for the lovely lungs enclosed in the human body.
We’re not imagining it. Each year respiratory protection is among the top 5 complaints to OSHA.
So here’s our question
Why aren’t you afraid?
Why don’t the aerosols created by heating metal and plastic materials scare you into action?
Why do you think it’s okay to breathe fumes that can harm you over time? (Read these brags.)
Is it because you think you’re invincible? So unlikely.
We hope you have some answers
We know we promised one question but asked several. But the problem is a big one and deserves broad and serious inquiry.
So we inquire of you: What can we do to make workers and artisans stop taking respiratory risks that may cause them regret and ill health?
Have an idea? Please post it to our Facebook page or fill out the feedback form below. Together, maybe we can make something good happen.
Soldering and pickling resources
We describe the hazards of solder fumes on our website.
Generally speaking, pickling removes flux and oxidation from metals via heated solutions of sulfuric or nitric acid.
A metal work safety discussion provided by Chicago Artists Resource notes some of the ingredients that may be found in pickle.
The Metal Studio Workbook blog describes jeweler’s pickle and suggests alternative ingredients.