Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Toxicity


#1

Folks, Here is a question on the relatively toxicity of several
processes. In our school studio, we have kilns for enameling, PMC
and lost wax. Some teachers feel that the wax burn out is highly
toxic. Do any of you have opinions (grin) about the relative
toxicity of each? I maintain that wax burn out may stink to high
heaven but is no more toxic than the results of the other two. We
have good positive exhaust but the room is after all not all that
large. I am planning to move my lost wax kiln into a large well
ventilated ceramic kiln room anyway but still would like some input.
What say you?

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut1


#2

Regarding the “question on the relatively toxicity of several
processes”.

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
complicated.

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
"chronically poisoned".

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
measure.

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
hazard?

David

ps for what it’s worth (not much) my post doctoral research was in
the field of environmental toxicology.


#3

Hi Don, Injection wax is not too different than candle wax. Carving
wax has some plastic in it that can be pretty smelly. In any case,
without proper ventilation it could be almost as bad as running your
car in a garage with the doors closed. It is mostly paraffin with
some color, scent, carnuba and/or microcrystalline wax. If you put a
powered stove hood type vent about a foot over your kiln and pipe it
outside you should have no problems. It will begin to smell the most
about 700F and continue for about 2 to 3 hours depending on the size
and number of flasks in your kiln. Get an indoor timer and hook it up
to come on just before the smell stage and to shut off just after.
With a little practice and adjustment your noxious fumes will be
histoire. John, J.A.Henkel Co.,Inc. Moldmaking Casting Finishing,
Producing Solutions For Jewelry Artists.


#4
   Folks, Here is a question on the relatively toxicity of ...
enameling, PMC and lost wax. ... Some teachers feel that the wax
burn out is highly toxic. . 

Don,

I’d suggest that in enamelling, you’re not burning much. some small
amounts of organics, like gum tragacanth, etc, if used, might be
creating some fumes, and if it’s a brand new kiln, some binders in
the muffle might burn away, giving some light fumes. but in general,
all you’re doing is melting glass, which doesn’t create much in the
way of fumes. PMC has organic binders in it, and these will create
some combusion products. But not much. Can you smell the process?
With enamels, you pretty much can’t. How 'bout with PMC? Again,
not too much. compare that with lost wax… Now, the degree of
toxicity of the smoke from lost wax may not be up to the level of
"highly toxic", but it sure is annoying, and I’d bet that burning out
the plasticizers in the harder waxes, like file-a-wax, does indeed
give off some carcinogenic compounds. You’d want to check that, but
i’ll bet it does. Again, I don’t know this for sure, but that’s my
take on it. Many of the more complex organic compounds, if they
give off smoke when burned, are at least somewhat toxic, so far as I
understand.

Peter


#5

Charles, I have an old kitchen hood with a fan built into it. They
are easy to find at garage sales or new. My kiln sits directly under
it and it is vented to the roof of the building of my studio. You
must use the right diameter vent pipe for it to draw properly. I
believe it is not good for you to breathe the fumes from wax burnout
Just common sense.

Regards J Morley Coyote Ridge Studio


#6

David An excellent overview excerpt from your doctorate. Thank you…

It is also interesting to note that many chemical manufacturers have
learned a stealthy trick of the mad scientist alchemy trade, in
order to fool the masses…

What is that trick ?.. SMELL / SCENT, has always been a gift to all
living things and is in fact a self preservation survival tool of
any species…If it smells like crap, then it is crap and stay the
heck away from it, period…However, what some product
manufacturers have stealthily accomplished to do is, they have
learned to use other masking chemicals to HIDE the Bad / dare i say,
Toxic smells of the product itself…

Some of those products are straightforward perfumes and "NICE"
smelling chemicals… Many perfume “scents” are 100% chemical
cocktails, with little known as to their long term effects…The
theory, if it smells nice, it must be OK…?

Still other even more stealthy chemical cocktails have molecules
that literally ( Wrap Around ) and 100% engulf the toxic smelling
molecules, just like plastic wrap and hide the smell altogether,
also similar to a plastic sandwich baggie, so to speak…

Then any person unknowingly ingests, inhales and absorbs, whatever
is in that stealthy chemical baggie…

Unfortunately, none of us gets the opportunity to see or Smell the
Scent of the baggie itself and or, its gooey jelly contents, which
are trapped and hiding in all those millions of microscopic
molecular sandwich baggies…HOW LOVELY !

Anyone want half of my, no can see it, can’t smell it, peanut butter
n jelly…

RnL (c.)


#7

Don, I think you may be able to find a post on this subject that I
sent in before May of last year - that’s when I lost my folder in a
crash. I asked the manufacturer Kindt-Collins about that question
and forwarded his reply. My best recollection was that there is
nothing major to worry about - as long as you don’t stand over the
kiln and breath deeply for the duration of the burn. They use only
normal ventalation systems in the factory making the stuff and have
never had any problems. Keep burning. While we’ve gotten over
another foot of snow and going for two in the DC area. Lovely quiet
time, feeding the birds and critters.

Pat


#8
Folks, Here is a question on the relatively toxicity of several
processes.  In our school studio, we have kilns for enameling, PMC
and lost wax.  Some teachers feel that the wax burn out is highly
toxic. Do any of you have opinions (grin) about the relative
toxicity of each?  I maintain that wax burn out may stink to high
heaven but is no more toxic than the results of the other two. We
have good positive exhaust but the room is after all not all that
large.  I am planning to move my lost wax kiln into a large well
ventilated ceramic kiln room anyway but still would like some
input. What say you?" 

Hi Don, What I say is that the stuff is dangerous as can be, to
breathe, no matter who you are, and quite lethal, in some cases.
Last summer, while taking a “Wax 1” class, I briefly became what you
might call “living, NON-breathing proof” of wax fumes’ toxicity:
within just a few minutes of the wax pens’ power switches being
turned on in the classroom, I started feeling a tightness in my
throat and a wheezy tightness in my chest, each time I tried to
inhale. After a few minutes’ more exposure, it got so bad that I got
dizzy and had to literally run out of the class in order to keep
breathing at all. A few minutes after that, when I’d calmed down and
my breathing had normalized, sufficiently, I returned to the
classroom, only to have my lungs (or diaphragm, I’m not sure which)
suddenly go into some sort of spasm, a few seconds later, such that
I couldn’t even force any air into my chest. (It was as scary as
hell, let me tell you!) This time, I ran for the nearest window and,
once able to breathe again, headed down to the local hardware store
for a dual-canister respirator rated for “organic mists and vapors”,
which I unfortunately had to wear for the duration of that and the
next class, despite others’ humorous comments.

Ever since that experience, I am only too well aware that, whether
I’m carving a wax with my flex-shaft, attaching sprues or dewaxing a
mold, the back window needs to be opened wide, the fans have to go
into overdrive and the respirator needs to be sealed over my face.
Doing anything less would be a deathwish. As for your comment that
"Some teachers feel that the wax burn out is highly toxic", I’d just
add, “Yeah… and?” – as in, “What? You’re doubting that?” As I see
it, if Tim McCreight warns of the toxicity in “Complete Metalsmith”
(p. 95), and the manufacturers warn of it in their MSDS sheets, and
if I had experiences like those I’ve just explained, chances are
pretty good that there’ll be others with bad experiences, along the
way, too. Toxic? You’d better believe it.

Hope this helps someone, out there, Doug

Douglas Turet, GJ
Lapidary Artist, Designer & Goldsmith
Turet Design
P.O. Box 162
Arlington, MA 02476
Tel. (617) 325-5328
eFax (928) 222-0815
anotherbrightidea@hotmail.com


#9
 within just a few minutes of the wax pens' power switches being
turned on in the classroom, I started feeling a tightness in my
throat and a wheezy tightness in my chest, each time I tried to
inhale. After a few minutes' more exposure, it got so bad that I
got dizzy and had to literally _run_ out of the class in order to
keep breathing at all. 

Sounds as if the fumes from the wax made you asthmatic. You may be
allergic to one of the ingredients ,while others in the room have no
reaction to it at all.One of the reasons I don’t do my own casting is
that I have a similar reaction to some of the vapors released
during the process.

Dee


#10
"(T)he degree of toxicity of the smoke from lost wax may not be up
to the level of "highly toxic", but it sure is annoying, and I'd
bet that burning out the plasticizers in the harder waxes, like
file-a-wax, does indeed give off some carcinogenic compounds. 
You'd want to check that, but i'll bet it does.   Again, I don't
know this for sure, but that's my take on it.  Many of the more
complex organic compounds, if they give off smoke when burned, are
at least somewhat toxic, so far as I understand." (P. Rowe) 

I think that this is absolutely right. I cannot explain this well in
English. When hard waxes (containing plasticizers) are burned,
compounds are formed which act to the body in a way which is
analogous to the action mixes of carbon, fluor and hydrogen - and
these are carcinogenic in that they slowly build up in the tissues
over the years and never get out anymore, eventually risking to cause
mutations. The most intelligent thing to do is probably to use
ventilation even when attaching sprues and all other little works in
which
waxes are heated. Regards, Will