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.