adBlockCheck

Cases Of Glitter Lung On The Rise Among Elementary-School Art Teachers

Top Headlines

Recent News

What Is The Alt-Right?

A recent speech by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton criticizing the “alt-right” movement and its support of Republican nominee Donald Trump has shone the national spotlight on the ideologically conservative group. Here’s what you need to know about the alt-right

Aunt On Facebook Casually Advocates War Crime

WILLIAMSPORT, PA—Arguing that it was time to deal decisively with the threat of terrorism, local aunt Deborah Massey casually advocated a war crime Monday in a brief Facebook post, sources confirmed. “Any city that has ISIS people hiding out in it needs to be bombed to the ground.

Dad Shares Photo Album Through Never-Before-Seen Website

SECAUCUS, NJ—Wondering aloud how the father of three even managed to find the online image-hosting service, family members of local dad Phil Yates told reporters Monday the 57-year-old had shared a photo album with them through a never-before-seen website.

How Obamacare Can Be Improved

With Aetna just the latest health insurance provider to opt out of covering Obamacare markets, many are wondering what changes can make the Affordable Care Act more appealing to customers and insurance companies. Here are some proposed improvements

NASA Discovers Distant Planet Located Outside Funding Capabilities

WASHINGTON—Noting that the celestial body lies within the habitable zone of its parent star and could potentially harbor liquid water, NASA officials announced at a press conference Thursday they have discovered an Earth-like planet located outside their funding capabilities.

A Primer On Everyday Sexism

Though opportunities for women have increased considerably over the past century, insidious everyday sexism continues to inform the female experience. Here are some commonly asked questions about this pervasive form of discrimination

Diehard Trump Voters Confirm Rest Of Nation Should Stop Wasting Time Trying To Reach Them

‘If Anything Could Change Our Minds, It Would’ve Happened By Now,’ Say Candidate’s Supporters

WASHINGTON—Saying it should be very clear by now that absolutely nothing can change their position on the matter, steadfast supporters of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump told the rest of the nation Wednesday that it really shouldn’t bother trying to persuade them not to vote for him.
End Of Section
  • More News
Up Next

Cases Of Glitter Lung On The Rise Among Elementary-School Art Teachers

CHICAGO—The Occupational Safety And Health Administration released figures Monday indicating that record numbers of elementary-school art teachers are falling victim to pneumosparklyosis, commonly known as glitter lung.

Dr. Linda Norr scans a sufferer who spent more than two decades in the classrooms.

Nearly 8,000 cases were reported in 2004, the most recent year for which statistics are available. This is the highest number since the arts-and-crafts industry was deregulated in 1988.

Characterized by a lack of creative energy and shortness of breath, and accompanied by sneezing or coughing up flakes of twinkly, reflective matter, glitter lung typically strikes teachers between the ages of 29 to 60 who spend 20 hours per week in an art-class setting during the school year.

"When art teachers spend so much time in confined quarters with inadequate ventilation amid swirling clouds of glitter, it's only a matter of time before their lungs start to suffer negative effects," said Dr. Linda Norr, a specialist in elementary-school-related respiratory diseases. "Those sufferers who are not put on a rigorous program of treatment often spend their last days on respirators, hacking up a thick, dazzling mucus."

As incidences of glitter lung continue to rise, critics are accusing public schools of not doing enough to protect art teachers.

Former art teacher Miles Winfield, who recently testified before a House subcommittee on unsafe working conditions, said that, as his symptoms worsened, his principal looked the other way, fearing defamation lawsuits from the powerful glitter industry.

"Most art teachers are afraid to come forward, for fear of losing their jobs," Winfield said. "At an absolute minimum, an art teacher should be equipped with a respirator, thick goggles, and a reflective-field smock. But schools don't want to stand up to Big Glitter, which continues to insist that this stuff is safe. Schools end up falsifying the safety reports and hoping they get away with it. And they usually do."

Until heavier, less toxic forms of glitter are developed, physicians recommend using alternative media to enhance children's artwork.

"Cheerios, cotton balls, and popsicle sticks are considered very safe," Norr said. "Avoid colored string, however, because some studies show that it could be high in yarncinogens. And if glitter is absolutely essential to the craft project, try using a glitter pen, as the particles are less likely to become airborne."

Glitter guidelines established by OSHA in 1970 allow for no more than 0.4 flakes per cm3 of the substance in the air. Yet critics say the standards were developed to protect children, who typically only spend two to three hours in art class per week, unlike teachers, who spend as many as 40 hours per week in the toxic, high-glitter environment.

Though only 47 years old, Lawrence, KS art teacher Helen Niles was forced to quit her job and lose her health insurance after her chronic glitter lung rendered her unfit for full-time work in February.

"At first, I had no idea what was going on," Niles said. "I'd wake up in the morning and I'd have this gritty feel in my mouth. The school nurse told me it was nothing, but eventually I was waking up with a shiny, sparkling stain on the pillow."

"People who have worked with glitter know that it gets everywhere if you don't sprinkle it very carefully. It can stick to your clothes and your skin," Niles said. "Imagine working in an environment where the atmosphere contains 10 parts per million, and you quickly realize what our nation's art teachers are up against."

The medical community has been slow to recognize glitter lung as a public health threat. A 1993 epidemic of sequin fibrosis, which primarily affected dancers in the Las Vegas, NV area, was seen as an isolated case. Now, however, the disease is being re-evaluated, and many doctors believe it may be the most serious occupational health hazard to hit educators since the outbreak of gold-star syndrome in the 1960s.

Epidemiologists note that the increase in glitter-lung cases is occurring simultaneously with a general rise in other classroom-related diseases. Macaroni elbow, modeling clay palsy, crayon flu, and googly-eye are sidelining thousands of teachers each year.

But despite growing medical alarm, efforts to provide adequate safety measures and health care continue to be hampered by bureaucratic red, blue, green, and yellow tape.

Sign up For The Onion's Newsletter

Give your spam filter something to do.

X Close