Regarding the “question on the relatively toxicity of several
I’m going to be a fool and step in where the angels fear to tread.
What do we mean by toxic? Does it mean we get sick or do we die? The
reasons I am asking these questions is because the topic is immensely
A saying in toxicology is that the “dose makes the poison”. Dose is
defined as the amount of material per unit time. So we can have lots
all once and get terribly sick or just a little bit at a time and die
slowly. I’ve heard anecdotally regarding the administration of
strychnine is that if the amount is too high the person just throws
up and thus avoids death. Or one can be administered arsenic over a
long period to time and just waste away. If the effect of the poison
is rapid we usually say that the person was “acutely poisoned”. If
the effect is over a long time we say that the person was
For many tests with fish, if 50% of the fish survive the amount
administered after 96 hours and 50% die we have what is known as the
LD50. Often this dose (amount of material exposed for 96h hours) can
become a standard for acute toxicity for say, trout.
The alternative is chronic toxicity which means low doses
administered over long periods of time. This is really hard to
If we add genetic variability of the subject then we are faced with
a real mess! Hey, some people seem to be able to smoke for ever and
survive to a very old age while others have chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease at a relative young age, especially if they are
working in a “dirty” environment already. (So environment plays a
critical role too.) How do we tease out the effect of the supposed
toxin against a very noisy background?
I guess what I am getting at is that it’s not what one does in one’s
studio that its so important, it’s about how one leads one’s whole
life; what foods one eats, what liquids one drinks, what recreational
drugs one uses, how much one drives, and what types of risk one
takes, for example. Of course if one is sloppy in the studio and
takes risk then eventually one will pay.
Now a question, when one uses a burn out kiln to burn away the waxes
are those waxes completely broken down to CO2. Are the waxes made
with only aliphatic hydrocarbons (long chains of carbon strung
together) or are there aromatic (rings of carbon with the root
looking like a benzene molecule) compounds too? Aromatic compounds
are more hazardous than aliphatic ones because they are the ones that
can be “inserted” into the DNA strand and hence cause mutations. This
is not a rhetorical question, I’m genuinely requesting
I look at it this way, if stuff stinks or makes my eyes water or
causes me to cough it probably ain’t too good for me, so I should
take care. That’s why I cook my onions ;^)
Bottom line, you can’t beat good industrial hygiene.
And I’ll leave you with this question because the concept of risk
applies to Orchid members in so many ways. What is risk and what is
ps for what it’s worth (not much) my post doctoral research was in
the field of environmental toxicology.