I was also wondering what one does with old pickle… Your safety
questions have to do with what are known as "chronic contaminants."
Chronic contaminants are those having long term effects through
either accumulation in the body, slow progressing damage to the body,
or small risk factors that become larger with repeated exposure.
Health effects from chronic contaminants are related by how much
contaminant is present and how long the person is exposed. Route of
exposure is also important: Ingestion, inhalation, and skin
absorption are typical routes of exposure. Exposure can also be
through energy overload to ears or eyes.
The typical regulatory agency (such as OSHA) approach is to limit
exposure, not to eliminate it. Nearly everything we come into contact
with has some risk. We (or sometimes the government) take on the
responsibility of determining what limit represents an acceptable
level of risk. (I suppose you could call the grease in fast food
french fries a chronic contaminant…it increases the risk of
vascular disease over time. However, I, on occasions accept the risk
of eating an order of french fries.)
The first and most essential thing to do in any studio is to reduce
the concentration of exposure by providing ventilation and dust
collection. Dust collection should use a HEPA filter. I, personally,
would not work without at least ventilation and dust collection.
For myself, I seldom use a dust mask unless dealing with something
particularly toxic. I avoid breathing anything that smokes, raises a
cloud of dust or metal filings, or has an irritating odor. In jewelry
work we often use magnification which requires us to put our face so
close to the work that the air current of our respiratory inhalation
is stronger than that of the ventilation. In such cases, I usually
handle this like a swimmer…hold my breath close in then lean back
and turn my head to get another breath.
It is bad to breath abrasive dust…abrasives can cause both chronic
disease and acute disease. Research suggests that the sharper the
abrasive dust, the higher the risk of acute disease. Silicosis
kills…chronic silicosis kills slowly, acute silicosis kills
quickly. Last year I saw a sand blast worker on the street without
dust protection…that was just plain stupid consiidering the
occupational risk of silicosis.
As to “known to cause cancer in California…” lucky I don’t live in
California ;-). (I couldn’t resist a bit of humor at the choice of
mandatory language.) I expect that you have seen the same warning I
have seen on polishing compounds etc. I have no idea what contaminant
to which the exposure refers, so no idea what precautions to take…I
just depend on my dust collection system to protect me. At some point
we need to just do what we like knowing that something unexpected is
going to eventually get us. It is up to each of us to decide where
our risk tolerance lies.
I read what I can find on toxicity, read the labels and ingredients
then make my decision as to what exposure safety precautions to take.
Some things remain unknown…I go forward anyway. (I kind of wish I
had known about asbestos in the 1960’s and early '70’s before its
risk became widely known. Insurance companies not wanting to see
workman’s comp claims pour in had a lot to do with delaying
dissemination of about the risks. Oh well, such is life,
maybe it will get me maybe something else will get me first.)
As to disposing of pickle. Most commercial pickles such as Sparex
and Rio Pickle are based on sodium bisulfate. Sodium bisulfate is the
same active ingredient used in the old crystal form of Sani Flush
toilet bowl cleaner. It is also a major ingredient in many iron stain
removal products such as Iron Out. The pH of average raw sewage water
is about 7.5, so the acidity of the pickle will neutralize in the
sewage disposal system. Sulfate is a commonly occurring mineral found
at fairly high levels in many drinking water wells. EPA has been
considering regulation extremely high levels of sulfate in drinking
water because a person newly exposed to high levels of sulfate could
experience temporary intestinal upset until their system becomes
acclimated. I don’t see your method of disposal of pickle as a
problem so long as it is the sodium bisulfate type of pickle. Never
mix acid with bleach in the toilet; It will release chlorine
gas…certain death if you breath enough of it.
Again…I cannot over emphasize getting at least some ventilation in
your studio…a window fan if nothing else. Keep the air moving away
from your face. Also get a HEPA dust collection system if you do not
have one. I use a powerful HEPA vacuum cleaner hooked to my dust
collection hood. I had to sell two or three pieces of jewelry to pay
for it…I consider it one of my best investments…how many months
or years might it add to my productive capacity? Chances are, I will
earn more than enough to pay for the safety equipment.
Enjoying the first gloaming of dawn in Eagle Idaho