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Tool Talk Thursday: Safety Equipment for Working with Clay : The air you breathe


                                                    Dual Cartridge Silicon Mask
                                                         Protection Factor of  10.

I have finally ordered my super safe small particle protection mask.  It looks pretty Space  Age to me.  It is the  more secure protection but you have to choose from a number of cartridges to get the protection you need for your studio situation. Here is the link that describes the cartridges and what they are good for.

I am sure though that I will wear it, especially after I vacuum my studio, or while I am carving and even sponging off my pieces. I checked with a couple of clay suppliers before I made my choice.  I even checked out our local Tractor Supply store.   It is a complicated process.  Just because you wear a mask, it  turns out, doesn't mean that you are getting protection.

                                                                Baileys  puts it this way:
Can You Answer These Questions?

What is a PEL?

Are all dust masks adequate protection for any dust applications?

Does a charcoal cartridge filter out dust?

If you can’t answer these questions, then realistically, you don’t have a sufficient knowledge of your raw materials, or how to adequately protect yourself! Wearing a mask without knowledge of proper application can be dangerous, It provides a false sense of security. Wearing no mask is ludicrous. Get informed!

The next thing I found out is that getting informed is complicated.  Bailey's has an excellent section on how to get informed enough to pick out the correct protection for the air borne  hazards in your studio.

Disposable Dust/Mist Respirator

                                                           NIOSH/MSHA Approved

This mask offers some protection from small particles.  But it is not as good a fit as the space age one. It is rated a  Protection Factor of 5.

Getting informed about dust protection is key to your health and safety.  Here is the link to the Baileys Ceramics information on this subject.   http://www.baileypottery.com/safetyequip/dustprotection.htm

If you have ideas and suggestions for ceramic studio safety, please share with us in the comment section.  We are all eager to learn more about this important subject.


  1. Thanks for doing this post Mary, I think this is such an important topic for people to understand.

  2. Great post Mary! Lots of good and important information… I've got one of those space ages ones back from when I used to clean the University clay studio. Went out on my own to buy one with lots of extra filters because "facilities" would only provide the little white dust masks. So important to not breathe clay dust!!! Thanks!

  3. Excellent! Thrilled to see this. Safety is often not covered well, even in college courses.

    I don't know if anyone's using a sprayer, but if you are spraying or doing raku, you should be wearing the "space age" version...every time. ;)


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