I know that I joke a lot on this Blog, But I want to address a serious issue. Silicosis, and your health and safety.
Professor Allan Rosenbaum at Virginia Commonwealth University, has been diagnosed with Silicosis. You can read the story here.
It is very detailed and the author David Ress deserves kudos. I don't know if he has any ceramics experience but this is an important topic, and he explores it thoroughly. So please give it a read.
The first thing I want to say is that V.C.U. is a respected ceramics institution and this is a tough spot they have been put in. When a University get put in this kind of situation, Ceramics Programs get threatened. Alfred has taken preventative measure over the years (as mentioned in the article). That does not mean, the problems go away. Health and Safety is a constant struggle here. We have to beat it into the heads of our student, and beat it some more. Now the articles does state that some mistakes were made at V.C.U., specifically blocking some of the ventilation systems. But, I want to say, that I do not believe this to be the universities fault.
Here is why, Silicosis is a cumulative disease. It take years and decades of exposure to develop this condition. Because of that, it is the responsibility of each and every ceramicist to protect themselves when working in and with powders. That is Ceramics 101, you learn that on the first day, you touch clay. It is up to you to protect yourself. End of story. Masks, Respirators, Personal Protective Equipment. I'm sure you have had the lessons; someone has harassed you for not wearing them. But, there is a reason you were being harassed. It is important!
The fact of the matter is that Silicosis, if a rare condition. We talk about it a lot in ceramics circles, and there is the every present story of "Puppy Lungs". But, I have never personally known anyone who has developed Silicosis. This article is proof, that it does happen. But, you must take care of yourself and watch out for others. Slack behavior like this, associated with Universities, could be the end of Academic Ceramics.