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Written and compiled by:
Joy Jackson and Jerry Lewis

When working with gourds, the following common sense measures and easy-to-find products will help keep you healthy and happily crafting.

Gloves: Avoid direct skin contact with moldy gourds which have not yet been cleaned. Some people also cannot handle cleaned gourds without gloves. A metallic taste in the mouth is the first sign of this tactile-taste problem. Vinyl gloves like those used by the health industry can be purchased by the box at your local pharmacies and large chain stores. When scrubbing gourds, dishwashing gloves are recommended.

Mask or Respirator: Airborne dust particles and mold spores from gourds should be avoided just as any other type of airborne particulate should be. A mask or respirator designed to prevent inhalation of these minute particles should be worn when cleaning the outside surface, sanding, cutting, and cleaning inside surfaces of a gourd.

Work with gourds outside whenever possible. If you must work inside, make sure you have good ventilation and a dust control system is strongly recommended.

Dust particles and mold spores will cling to clothing and hair. After working with gourds in the cleaning, sanding, cutting, carving, etc. stages, change into clean clothes and wash the ones you were wearing. Keeping your hair covered while stirring up gourd dust or mold is also a good preventive measure.
If you are new to gourds, you will soon learn your sensitivities to them, if any, and the measures you'll need to take when working with them. The first signs of a problem will most likely be a metallic taste in the mouth, fits of coughing, or sneezing with runny eyes and nose as in an allergy attack. The measures and protective items mentioned above are the first steps to maintaining good health while working with gourds. They should be followed even if you don't notice any sensitivities at all. Gourds, like many other pollutants in the environment we come in contact with throughout our lives, don't always send up an immediate signal that they are causing a problem.
Gourds are a wonderful natural resource to work with, providing many creative pportunities and practical uses. So let's all gourd in good health!

Any questions? Please contact Joy or Jerry, you can
e-mail them by clicking on their names below.

Joy Jackson / Jerry Lewis
2003 Gourd Artists Gathering


The Gourd Reserve would like to give special thanks to Joy Jackson and Jerry Lewis for their kindness in sharing their information for the good and safety of the Gourding community. The Gourd Reserve also urges anyone who is working with Gourds, or even wood crafting for that matter, always wear a respirator when sanding, cutting, painting or otherwise on gourds, wood, or any other material that produces fine dust particles.  Take it from someone who knows, Dan Dunkin, (me), of The Gourd Reserve first developed breathing problems around 2003 when using a bench sander to sand away on several gourds for trinket boxes. I have recently visited a doctor and have been diagnosed with Emphysema.  Emphysema will likely kill me before my time.  Your lungs are delicate, and if you wish to enjoy a hobby that produces dust, then protect your lungs.


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