We love getting comments from our readers. Here's one from Steve Loeffler in Albuquerque that we thought would be of particular interest.
Happy Holidays! Unfortunately, I am now living up in Albuquerque and very much miss the club's monthly meetings, field trips and activities.
I just read through the January 2013 Rolling Stones Beacon and would like to contribute by offering a safety comment regarding the article on Page 4: Flint Knapping, which I would encourage to be shared with members.
As we all should know, buffing and polishing rocks and minerals can generate particulates that are not conducive to our health. Safety eye wear generally provides adequate protection from immediate injuries to the eyes and should be worn whenever possible. It is, however, very easy to forget that microscopic dust and fumes can also cause immediate and/or long term heath problems. That is why a good workshop design includes an air vacuum venting/filtering system to pull fumes and particulates safely away from the worker.
Knapping produces significant microscopic silica particles (among others) when the medium is flaked, and care should be taken to avoid breathing in these particles for anyone seriously considering taking up this hobby. Generally, knapping performed outdoors with a light wind blowing away from participants will suffice to carry particles safely away, however, several career knappers have cautioned me to wear a good quality filter mask when knapping indoors, or outside when no wind is occurring, to avoid inhaling and ingesting these particles. The cost and dedicated use of a good filter mask, like safety eye wear, is insignificant when compared to the insidious long-term, irreversible heath problems it can prevent. An ounce of prevention.......