A small rant on ventilation


I **HATE** that word. To me, adequate means “getting by”. When it comes to ventilation, all of us should be striving for excellence. Adequate is not enough.

Ventilation systems for lampworkers have to be absolutely the best, far beyond adequate.

Some folks advocate using ventilation systems that move 100 CFM per square foot of hood coverage on overhead hoods. That is not even adequate. Some companies sell hoods that don’t even meet the 100 CFM criteria. Some folks say doing all those numbers to calculate your ventilation system is a wast of time and energy (“I question the need for all those calculations” I believe is the one of the phrases I have seen posted by someone).

I am beginning to believe that our first lampworking safety incident is not going to be a propane accident as I’ve assumed it would be, but it is going to be ventilation related. (And, it has. There has been a fatality in New Mexico last year, which may very well have been ventilation related.) “Some folks” are far too complacent and far too willing to accept the easy way of doing things.

I am tired of hearing about the “easy way”. It has to be done the RIGHT WAY or someone is going to get hurt. And the RIGHT WAY involves doing some skull sweat and running a calculator or an Excel spreadsheet. The RIGHT WAY involves following the CODES…”some folks” are quick the NFPA codes for propane but are will to totally ignore the ventilation codes….sort of makes you wonder why, doesn’t it?

And, if you have someone in your household who is “respiratory impaired” (with asthma, reactive airway disease, COPD, or any other respiratory related problem), having anything other than excellent ventilation is like handing a sparkler to a 4 year old: something bad is going to happen.


4 thoughts on “A small rant on ventilation

  1. You only have one set of lungs. You need to take care of them.

    Over the last five years or so, I have watched my father’s condition deteriorate due to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. At age 70, he was still robust and active; now he’s on oxygen nearly full-time, struggles for breath with the least exertion, and developed barely-controllable diabetes as a result of the treatments for the PF. He wasn’t a lampworker, ever, but he did plenty of work with noxious substances and inadequate ventilation, including hand-grinding telescope lenses.

    It is horribly painful to see him like this — I would never want anyone else to face such a fate because they thought “adequate precautions” were good enough.

  2. Pingback: Art of the Firebird » Blog Archive » Best of the Week 2/10/2008

  3. I’m putting together a studio in my house. I’ve been lurking around these sites to get some ideas. in the Plumbing and HVAC trade, we have to make dam sure the appaliances ( furnace , water heater , fireplaces , ect…) are properly gassed and vented. we have codes and regulations that we have to adhere to but what ive been seeing is alot of do – it yourselfers putting themselves and thier families at risk. i think if i told one of our gas inspectors that my ventilation on a new house is adequate and not ” better than the requirement ” the might just might wonder why they gave me a gas ticket in the first place. Im amazed that with all the hazards involved , ANYBODY can install this stuff with no real knowledge of what they are doing. I dont think it would hurt to have a gas inspector or at least a qualified gas and HVAC technition inspect this stuff. you cannot install a furnace or water heater without a gas ticket , permit and inspection ( at least legally ) , how is this any different.

  4. Excellent comment, well-taken – always wise to make sure that what you are doing is “safe”. To be honest, I suspect that many people do not even think about having a gas inspector in, and maybe some might be paranoid that they will be discovered to be breaking building or insurance codes if inspected. Many tend to set up our studios in small, strange places in between the comings and goings of life, and might be nervous about getting “shut down”. Money is also an issue today as well. Am not debating your observations, just considering the realities. Personally do not work at Home, but like yourself am lurking, gathering research toward a safe and well-ventilated workspace in the future. This site is the most informative spot I’ve come across in the murky world of studio ventilation – clean, clear, and exactly what was needed. Thank you Mr. Aurelius.

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