1) Can anyone out there tell me a little about the health issues
with using leaded enamels? 2) I live with my parents, who are both
in their 70's, and my studio is connected to the den and kitchen
of our house. 3) I've wanted to try working with the Japanese
enamels, but been reluctant, because I don't want to endanger
anyone's health. Thanks again, Susan
Hi Susan, 1) You would want to observe the same careful Health &
Safety working habits that you should observe when working with the
lead free enamels.
It’s true that lead free enamels don’t contain lead, but the
colorant oxides in many of the lead free enamels, as well as lead
bearing enamels, are as serious, and potentially hazardous to work
with as the lead in lead bearing enamels, if they are misused,
inhaled, or ingested.
See Product Safety for enamels including lead free enamels on the
Thompson Website: http://www.thompsonenamel.com/welcome/safety.htm
Colorants such as barium, cadmium, arsenic, antimony compounds, and
other metal oxides, which are present in some lead free colors as
well as some lead bearing colors, can be hazardous or toxic, and
should be used with the same good care as leaded enamels.
You should use a dust mask when opening containers of lead baring or
lead free enamels when dispensing. And certainly use a dust mask or
respirator when dry sifting enamels on work. I would NOT do either
in a room shared with daily living uses, weather lead baring or lead
Once wet the enamels are far less likely to be inhaled in to the
lungs, or ingested, or get on things that could be used for eating,
Do not lick brushes or wet-packing tools. Certainly don’t eat, drink,
or smoke, at your enamel work station. You would also want to provide
for a well vented kiln and kiln area with either lead bearing or
lead free enamels.
I admire you for being able to live and work in one home with
your patents. My parents are in their 70’s & 80’s and live less that
a mile away, I love and respect them very much, and see them often,
I was there twice today. But I would find it difficult to both live
and enamel in their home. Bravo to you!
I believe that if you exercise proper work care, and follow
recommended Health & Safety guidelines which you can obtain from the
enamel suppliers. If you do all your decanting of enamels and any
dry sifting outside in a protected area… ( protect your work
space, catch stray enamel dust, disposing of fines responsibly,
etc…) And if in your inside work space you primarily wet-pack the
enamels, you should be able to work safely with lead bearing as well
as lead free enamels.
I worked in my living room alcove for years. The kiln vented to an
open window to release any possible vapors, and was against a block
wall for fire safety. I kept the enamel bench wet cleaned daily, and
only worked wet-packing enamels inside the room. I believe that no
enamel got anywhere it shouldn’t have.
The Japanese enamels are beautiful! I highly recommend them! You can
get them from Coral at Enamelwork Supply Co. Seattle WA Orders:
1-800-596-3257 Information: 1-206-525-9271
Also for additional enameling articles and check out
eNAMEL Online Newsletter’s “Useful Stuff” Page:
Best of Luck! Happy Enameling! Peace & Prosperity! Sharon Scalise