Points of Contamination

Since stained glass work has become a popular hobby, here are some important points of contamination to consider in order to stay safe.

  • The main exposure to the hobbyist comes in the form of lead dust and fumes during soldering.  Higher soldering temperatures also releases more fumes than at lower temperatures.
  • Working with lead came during cutting, sawing and stretching can also cause exposure. Lead came has various alloys such as copper, brass and zinc for strength; hollow lead came has zinc in the channels.
  • Copper foil  also presents a safety issue during wrapping, cutting, soldering, beading and tinning.
  • Restoring old stained glass is another health hazard because it often contains oxidized lead, a white powdery substance which can be inhaled.  Dust in the plaster and fillings around old stained glass should also be avoided.

Here are some safety precautions for your consideration:

  • The use of non lead solder, which contains less toxic elements like cadmium or antimony.
  • Wetting down old cames or old frames to lessen the spread of lead dust.
  • Reduce sawing by using a sharp knife or tin snips.
  • Adequate ventilation using Hepa filters.
  • Isolating the work area, so contamination does not spread to the house and other members of the family, especially children, who are at higher risk of contamination.
  • Vacuuming with Hepa filters or wet mopping the dust.
  • Regular cleaning of all surfaces in the work area, walls, work surfaces as well as tools and equipment.
  • Most importantly, follow personal washing guidelines.  Check out our hand washing post.
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