View Full Interactive Version Of This Page : copper mesh *health concerns*
I'm not big on mentioning stuff about safety because usually I know about as much as the average person, I could be wrong, and I hate to start long arguments...however, I noticed a new trend so I wanted to mention something I found today...
I had been doing a new series of beads "Garden Gate". Well, it's a "frame" of copper mesh on the surface with some flowers. I loved them and so did my ebay buyers, so I made a lot of them. Then I got the flu, so I stopped torching while I was feeling sick...I had a fever, aches, exhausted to the point I didn't get out of bed for 5 days...I was a mess. Some nasal issues, but not as bad I one would expect from the flu...I was happy at least that that wasn't as severe...
Well today I find this when I googled "Copper fumes"...
Copper dust or fumes can affect you when breathed in.
Eye contact with particles of Copper Metal can cause a severe reaction that can lead to blindness.
Exposure to dust or fumes can irritate the eyes, nose and throat.
Copper fumes may cause "metal fume fever". This is a flu-like illness with symptoms of metallic taste, fever and chills, aches, chest tightness and cough.
Copper may cause an allergic skin rash.
(from a page on the New Jersey dept. of health site)
Copper exposures can occur while working in copper and brass foundries and smelters; while welding or electroplating; and during the production or use of fungicides, ceramics, pyrotechnics, pigments, and analytical reagents. [ACGIH] (from http://hazmap.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/hazmap_generic?tbl=TblAgents&id=374)
Okay, It could be a coincidence, I could have caught the flu after my long stint of working with copper mesh on the surface of beads. I am not a professional, but I think that it is something to think about.
I'm actually having someone come in a test the air quality while I torch and sending the results to a lab for testing. I will definately update when I get answers. I really thought I had a good ventilation system, I've read all that Dale, and Mike and all the others that seem to know what they are talking about have said to do. I am to the point of frustration ](*,) over not KNOWING that I'm safe...I'm going to make sure I KNOW. But in the mean time I'm not using copper mesh until 7/11 when the testing is being done. :)
Yikes! I had heard that fuming with copper is poisonous, but I never really connected it to using it on the surface. I'm glad you're getting things tested. Did you have a metallic taste in your mouth while you were sick?
Amy so sorry to hear you were so sick!
Amy I think testing the air is a great idea. You could have blood work too which would tell you if you have high copper levels in your blood. I would do that if I was worried about it. Did you have the metalic taste? I would tell my MD my concerns and ask to be tested for metals. You could still find out if you have them in your system even if you feel better. If you were toxic enough to get that sick, you wouldn't be totally clear them right away.
Does anybody know where to get copper filings? I had a lady not too long ago show me a bead she bought on vacation somewhere. It was really pretty, it had silver foil and copper filings (I'm sure that's what they were) encased. I wish I had a picture, my description is lousy, I know. Anyway, I thought it looked neat and wanted to try it. I've only used the copper foil with enamels and I got the copper from my local bead store so I have no idea where to look for the filings.
I don't totally remember....it was a few weeks ago, but I was sick for about a month, just the really sick, flulike thing was only for about 5 days...I just couldn't "shake it". I usually can pretty quickly, but not that time. Like I said it could have been the flu, but it was very close in timing, so it made me concerned...especially since a couple vendors are getting the mesh in, I thought if you knew about the possible hazards you could be very careful using it. Not that I'm trying to discourage anyone from buying/using the mesh...I just want you to be aware, it may not be safe.
I have not made an appointment with my MD, but I'm going to. I want my blood tested for heavy metals anyway, since I've been torching for 2 years solid (longer, but off an on). I have tried all kinds of glass and inclusions, some before I got a "good" ventilation system, some afterwards. I use A LOT of frit...I just know I don't want to be suffering with some uneccessary illness when I'm 60, so I can make beads in my 30's. I'll keep you posted.
Krista, I'm sorry, I'm not sure what you are talking about. I've never heard of such a thing.
I'm also thinking that the Copper foils will likely not be as harmful...but that my not be true. I just know with my beads, I was putting the copper on, and then building up from there, so the copper was in the flame a long time, and not encased. I think that seems more dangerous. I will hopefully have some concrete answers to my concerns in a couple weeks, between the MD and air testing.
Zooziis, please post your results. Safety is very important to me, too, and I would love to hear what you learn, or anything they suggest or tell you. Since you are indeed striving for a healthy system, I would very much like to hear if you succeeded. =)
I'm actually having someone come in a test the air quality while I torch and sending the results to a lab for testing.
Where did you find this person... I'd love to have someone test my air quality too.
The thing that's been the hardest for me is making sure that the clean air I'm pulling in is not contaminated with my exhaust air. Because of the downdrafts that we have (we live at the bottom of a ridge, along a creek, which means lots of downdrafts) I have a hard time getting the exhaust well away from my clean air...
I'm like you, I don't want to find out later that I've trashed my health in any way...
I am so sorry that you were sick with the flu. I hope that is all it was. I really appreciate you bringing this topic up. We can never be too safe.
There are many things I will not use, even tho I really like the effects, It isn't worth the risk to my heath. I do have a respirator with the correct inserts and replaceable disks, to use when I chose to do heavy metals.
I also get my blood teated once a year. Your MD can do this for you, tell him what materials you work with, and he will test you. I would rather know now than be really sick later.
Also on a side note, Please get your tetnius (sp) shot up to date! If you don't know you CAN get tetni from burning yourself. Even small little burns over and over again can cause it. It's just one little shot, and only once every 5 years now, that's right it is not every 7 anymore they suggest if you work with fire every 5 years.
Amy, thank you for this information. Please let us know what you find out. I have great ventiliation too, and have not been sick from it yet.
I will definately let you know what I find out. I'm also having things tested so if I decide to have a baby I'll know if there is reason to consider not lampworking during the pregnancy...NOT an announcement! If I decide to have a child I will NOT risk the health of the baby for my job...however, if there is no concern, why give up what I really enjoy doing and can pay the bills with...So now I'll KNOW...since the only things I've seen on the subject are people's opinions on the matter...that doesn't help me make an educated decision.
I found out that in my state (NH) if you are a small business (with at least one employee), which I have, I qualify for FREE workplace testing. They will provide me "confidential" results that will compare my exposure to OSHA safety levels, as well as their own more stringent suggested levels. It's "confidential" so they will not "shut down" my operation if there is a problem, but will make recommendations to me so I can be safe. They will also test my ventilation to tell me what the actual CFM rating is... So, I finally get something for my tax money that I WANT and NEED...hehehe
Thank you Shawn. I hope that's all it was too. I'm going to be making an appointment with the Dr. this week, and I also will be talking to him about the tetnus shot...I definately burn myself a lot :) After all the bandage is the "lampworker's badge of honor"...right...hehehe.
Lynne I'll try to ask the tester about your issue...I wonder if you can ventilate into some sort of filter...like I said, I'll check.
Safety is definately important, and as cool as melting glass is, it's not worth a serious health problem in your later years...They may say (rather flippantly) that you have to die of something; but how and when is rarely your choice, and I would like to do my part to insure it's the least miserable way to go it can be. I'm watching my Grandmother go via Emphasema (sp?)...not pretty... I never want my OxyCon to help me breath :)
Thanks, Amy! :waving:
Ohw my goodness Amy! I know you where ill, and I also know you where really not down to earth, but that it could be because of the copper you have used scares the sh*t ( is that a right word?) out of me! Go get your checkup and bloodworks, just to make sure everything is allright . Also good job to have yourself checked out completely BEFORE you decide to have a baby or not, lot's of women don;t think about these things untill they are already pregnant, so heads up for you!
I'm very sorry to hear you were ill. Have you any results yet from the air test and the MD?
I too, am concerned about air quality (and who isn't?), and have decided to be safe, rather than sorry - I consider my NIOSH N100 mask from 3M an essential part of my safety equipment, right along with my goggles...it's not very attractive, but at least I know I'm doing a little bit on top of my vent system to protect my asthmatic lungs.
Chris in OlyWA
Hey thanks for bringing this thread back up, This was originally posted in 2005. Whatever came of this? I started to read and became very interested.
Well I do know that Amy had herself a sweetie little baby over a year ago, so i'm hoping that's a good sign.. :biggrin:
Amy had the testing done. Here's the follow up thread:
Amy's testing came back that her studio was darned near perfect :) (but that of course you should wipe down your tables & wash your hands before eating & such....)
What about all that glass that uses copper for color - turquoises and greens?
I knew she had a baby but I didn't tie it to this thread. When I read this I was horrified to think that you can get so terribly sick when you think you're doing all you can to protect yourself. It's good to know it was just a bug.
This is a very interesting thread - thank you for bringing it back up to all our attention.
I do have a question and hope that Amy will pop in to answer. When the testing was done, where exactly did they test the air? I find that even tho I have a very good ventilation system, whenever I spend a whole day making beads that are very detailed (as in florals with leaves, etc.), I feel the metallic taste in the back of my mouth. I think it's because I lean closer to the bead when I work on detail decorations and thus breathing in the fume BEFORE it's vented out. I wonder if others have this experience!
Linda - all glass that has a high metal content counts, I use a respirator in addition to my ventilation system whenever I use silver glass, copper greens, rubino, etc.
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