Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Abalone Toxicity


#1

Hi, I have come across some beautiful abalone shells recently and I’m
trying to drill a hole in them for a PVC tube. I came across some
very old emails in the egroups on this subject but I can’t get any
response from the individuals that wrote them. I have two questions:
How toxic and dangerous is this and what sort of tool do I use? ANy
that you could give me would be useful. Thanks, Tanya
Best Please respond to my email address: bestt@cascadeng.com


#2

Hi: I used to work with abalone and yes it can make you very
sick…the best way to deal with it is under running water…a flex
shat and and grinding wheels ( mizzey heatless) diamond and carbide
will work well, waterproof sanding disc will work well also, object
is to not breath the dust…and I suggest using a mask when working in
water flow…a little messy but it is better than suction…
emery to rouge as normal buff… ringman john


#3

Hi Tanya Abalone shell dust is very toxic, possibly causing heart
arrhythmia and other organic damage. The dust contains a toxic
substance the body mistakes as sugar and thus allows passage to
various organs. To protect yourself wear a gas mask, gloves and cover
up with clothing as much as possible (the substance can be absorbed
through the skin!). Cut the abalone under water or with a stream of
water. If I haven’t scared you too much, abalone is a beautiful shell
to cut. I deal in cultured abalone mabe pearls that have a similar
color range.

Tom Tietze
www.abalonepearls.com


#4

Hi Tanya, Abalone shell is something that most California jewelers
encounter fairly often. The toxicity factor is a bit exagerated. You
can actually drill the stuff with an ordinary high speed steel drill,
but it is advisable to use a fairly slow speed to avoid over-heating
and propagation of airborne dust. The chitinous component of the
shell is the culprit when it comes to toxicity but, I have never had
a problem with it. The trick is to avoid breathing the dust inasmuch
as the chitinous material is very irritating to the lungs. You can
overcome the problem using a disposable respirator mask which is
available at most hardware or paint stores. By the way, abalone is
extremely easy to polish; Zam on a muslin buff will give you a mirror
finish in no time. Ron Mills @ Mills Gem Co. Los Osos, CA.


#5

Hi, Abalone shell is extremely toxic when ground, it can even cause
nausea when you grind it wet. Make sure you use plenty of water and
have a good air flow around you. If you start to feel a bit funny or
get a strange taste in your mouth, stop immediately and get fresh air

  • some people are more sensitive to it then others. The same applies
    to Pau Pau shell.

A diamond bit in a flex shaft will readily cut a hole in the shell,
wet dry silicon carbide paper will take the sharp edges off. There is
a whole article on working abalone shell on my web page -
www.islandnet.com/~islndgem - under the shop hints page. You can get
some really nice results - works well for earrings (light) and can be
made into triplets or doublets as well.

Enjoy your abalone - but please be careful!

Cameron Speedie
Island Gem and Rock


#6

Hello, I must concur with Ron. I cut a lot of abalone shell and
actually inhaled my share of dust. Ten years later and I’m still
kickin’. Of course this is not a definitive test. I could suffer long
term effects, but my liver didn’t shrivel up and turn black :wink: Like
any airborne material it is best to avoid its inhalation, but don’t
let this stop you from using abalone. Just work with it wet.