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Leonardo. Vol. 1I. pp. 236237. d ' Pergamon Press Ltd. 1978. Printed in Great Britain. 002WjY4X I78 I070 I4236502.001 0 HEALTH HAZARD EVALUATION OF ART MATERIALS USED AT THE COOPER UNION SCHOOL OF ART, NEW YORK* Michael McCann** NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) has just released the report on the first health hazard evaluation to be carried out at an art school by a government agency. The survey, which took place at Cooper Union's art school, located in New York City, in April and December of 1975 and March 1976, was conducted at Cooper Union's own request. George Sadek, Dean of Cooper Union's School of Art and Architecture. said that they decided to request NIOSH to carry out this evaluation because he felt that 'the schools have to show concern for the health and safety ofartistsof the future.' As stated in the NIOSH report, the purpose of the survey was 'to evaluate the exposure of students, faculty and technical assistants to materials used by artists and craftspersons.' The survey covered the areas of print-making, painting, metal-casting, woodworking and plastic sculpture. Since the results of this survey are applicable to art schoolsall across the country, I am going to quote the Conclusions and Recommendations from the report in their entirety: It is helieved that most ofthe chemicals andproiwses to which students. ,faculty, and technical personnel at the Cooper Union School qf Art are exposed have no serious and long-lusting health effects. This isprimarily due to the jact that cxposure times are usually hrief and sporadic in nature. Howevcr. there ure u,few e.uceptions to this,notablj, thc e.upo.surc to silica. benzene (benzol)~ und lead. Although c.uposures to these suhstances also are occmional. it is helieved that even short-term e.uposures to cmcentrutions in the rangcs ofthose measured during this investigution ma). have potentially toxic qfpcts. Several substances used at Cooper Union may produce transicwt irritation of the eves, nose, and throat. and may dry and defut the skin. The solvents used in etching, lithograplir. .silk screening, and painting arc in this i'ategor).. Concentrations f m ineral spirits, lithotitii~/hi~ri~inr, toluene, sylene, acetonc,and .styrene are not judged to be a health hazard at the concentrations measured during this evaluation. It is recognized that cvncentrations muj*he higher at times qf increased activitj. in these ureus, howevcv. since these esposures are shortterm and occur intermittently. they are not helieved to he capable of producing any long-term heulth effects. Concentrations of wood dust encountered in the sculpture urea also ore heliewd to hc cupahle of producing transient irritation of' the upper respiratory tract. Although longterm heulth e f f t ~ t sarc not like1.v with limitrd exposure times, the rvidcnce,froni woodworking industries that more *Reprinted from Art Workers News with permission 4 Copyrisht Art H,izdrd$ Rewurce Center 1976 **Center for Occupational Hazards, 56 Pine Street, New York, NY 10005, U.S.A. seriou.~ disrasc~ mar result ,fromchronic esposures suggests that it M'ould he prudent to riduce (~.upo.sures to the lowest practicable levels. Improved dilution (general room ventilation ) is recommended, measurements of air movement using an Alnor Velometerindicated very little air movement in the room in spite ofthe,fact that two 1arge.filtered vents tc'erepresent. Both were observed to he liea\'ilr coated with dust. which mar he one e.xplanution ,fbr thi, uhsence of air ,flow. Periodic ckining of the ,filtiw is recommended to prevent the restriction of air.flow.Another possihility is that the exhaust ,fan capacity is not sufficient to c.rhaust the largc number of cnhic fi.c.t of uir prcwnt in (I rooni of that s i x . It is also recommended that machineguarding is added to the umdlcorking maihiner,r which is not alreac(y soequipped . Local c.shuust ventilation is rec~oriinic~ndi~rl over the small kiln. in which bron:e is melted. This could he similar in design to that over thc lurge kiln. Although I O Y ~ S of copper. tin. and zinc. are not likelr to rmc,li levels capuhle o f ' producing tosic elficts. thci cmcwitrations of...


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