Lin-- Since you worked at the Field, maybe you know-- Is it
true that dust from all sea creatures (pearls, shells--
cuttlefish?) is toxic?
So I'm not Lin, but I can chime in to let you know that the dust of
abalone shells (and probably other shells) should NOT be breathed. It
slices up your lungs in much the same way that asbestos does. Nasty
business. However, if you're not sawing/carving/pulverizing the
abalone shell, it's not dangerous as far as I know.