Sunday, March 30, 2008

Update on poisoning....

In case you didn't see my original post, click here to read it.

I had originally thought my issues were probably mostly coming from the fumes of baking the polymer clay. However, I now think skin contact may be as equally important.

Last week, I didn't touch any clay, nor bake any. Last week, I finally felt better, and the weird feelings in my head (woozy/dizzy/etc) went away completely. By yesterday I felt completely normal for the first time in a month.

Then I decided to clean my studio and put all of my polymer clay away - giving me more workspace for my art supplies. I had several sheets and blocks of raw clay sitting on the work table, and I handled them briefly to put them away. I used diaper wipes to clean my hands immediately, scrubbed the entire work table with diaper wipes, and then washed my hands thoroughly. We are maybe talking 20 minutes of time to do all of this and I wasn't handling the clay except for only a few minutes to put it in the drawer.

I am sick again today....the woozy feeling is back and I actually felt it come on a little bit last night before I went to bed. It's still here and it's been over 24 hours since I handled the clay. I also have a metallic taste in my mouth (best way to describe it) which I have frequently when I am exposed to a chemical I'm sensitive to. I forgot to mention that as one of my symptoms in the post I made yesterday.

I had thought most of my issues were probably from fumes. Apparently it's not just the fumes. I looked back on the report I linked to yesterday and found this text in the report, which I think is important:

"Exposure Analysis
VPIRG commissioned the Environmental Quality Institute (EQI) at the University of North Carolina-Asheville to assess human exposure to phthalates when polymer clays are used according to packaging directions. Researchers at the lab, specializing in real-world environmental exposure assessment prepared and baked clay samples following the manufacturers’ directions, and measured releases of phthalates in the air and residues of phthalates on users’ hands.

The EQI lab found that, when prepared as directed, polymer clays could expose children and adults to significant concentrations of phthalates, including BBP, DnOP, and DnHP, from both handling the clays and breathing in air contaminated with phthalates during the baking process."

So apparently there are enough of the chemicals in the clay to cause problems from handling it as well. And I am experiencing effects from that today. :(



Leelinau said...


Been reading your blog on and off for a while now. Just read about your exposure to clay issues. And while I havent had any issues, I was wondering if wearing rubber gloves would help you?

When I work with the clay I've always worn rubber gloves, only for the fact that I dislike having fingerprints on the clay. Maybe though its a good idea and lucky that I have been using gloves.

(I use walmarts brand inside out, after washing off the slight powder film)

It is a PITA though, but worth retrospect.

Best wishes!
Adina ^_^

inventivesoul said...

Dear Jai,
A friend of mine forwarded me to your site.
Recently I had seen a news report on phthalates used in plastics to keep them pliable. Mainly PVC.
I have been extremely ill for the majority of the time that I have been working with polymer clay.
Unfortunately since I started using the clay a such a young age, I had no idea that it may be the clay.
I have been working with it for over 17 years now and only until I was teaching polymer clay classes did I start to notice symptoms connected with working the raw clay.
It is sickening, not just woozy (good description!) At this point I get sudden pangs of pains internally.
I do get weak and tired easily too. I believe that it may have been what has caused me to be borderline anemic for years. I know that I have to quit if I want to have kids as there are serious reports out about moms having high levels in their blood and causing serious problems for the babies.

I have over 100 pounds of clay around my house at the moment and have been thinking seriously about giving it up.
If you check my blog, you will see that I work the clay in fine detail and sometimes this means keeping the clay warm in my palms for long periods of time.

Did you ever get any strange twitching?

I think we should start a *possible* symptoms list that we artists feel is directly linked to the use of the clay.
Please feel free to email me if you have any questions. I am very interested in hearing from you.

By the way, a VERY important fact many artists are not aware of-
A product may be non toxic, but that does not mean it will not get you sick. It simply means that it will not KILL you, It CAN and often DOES hurt the user.
They just started using that symbol and warning after so many artists were poisoned to death after using supplies in the "olden" days.
Amber Dawn
Who is sick and tired of feeling so sick and tired!!!

Tina Holden said...

Hi Jai,
finding your blog this morning was a wake up call. I've been in denial for so long. I do beadwork and when I do, the polymer clay will be stored away for months. Then comes out the clay and I start to feel symptoms of dizziness, woozyness, nausea, get tingling and numbness in my fingers and even cramps in fingers and extremities. I also get extreme psoriasis flare-ups that slowly disappear when I put the clay away. I agree with Amber Dawn (Hi Amber!) that we should keep a list somewhere of artists feeling sick and their symptoms....